Public Sector Design - Driving Internal and External Change One Step at a Time


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Our presentation to Service Design 2012 in Melbourne. You can hear the audio of our presentation via our blog. Copy this link into your browser:

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  • Service Design 2012The serious name for our presentation is Public Sector Design “Driving internal and external change one step at a time”.
  • The presentation is designed to help you understand why we love it, as we explore why and how we do our work – and most importantly, for what outcomes. DMA is Justin Barrie and Mel Edwards and as you can see – we LOVE public sector service design!We are service designers with a background in both the private and public sectors who have spent the last decade using service design as a way to make a difference…So why do we love working in this world.Three simple reasons.
  • We love service design in the pubic sector because:It’s driven by social outcomes (that means it’s about citizens and the organisations that deliver the services) For us that means:not driven by profit it’s driven by a desire for social gooddriven by creating services to support (or regulate the behaviour of) people from obvious things for themost needy through to social outcomes being delivered on a nationwide scale that you might not even notice.This is driven by engaging with the people that are going to be effected and with the people that are going to effect the change So equal in our focus is building capability – the people who we design with remain in the public sector, the things we create remain. What we create, do and share can’t be unknown once it’s known and it effectively becomes part of an overall approach to key social issues and opportunities.
  • We lovepublic sector design because we know it’s possible to change the system through (what we call) Sticky Steps.For us that means:People can’t go back (if they can then it’s not really sticky – just one of the dreaded clichéd quick wins we all hear so much about)Because big arrow transformation – in our experience – doesn’t succeed – it draws off resources, energy and focus into competing disciplines, ‘requirements gathering’ and project management malaise. When big money – public money is involved – sticky steps that get the public and people involved are where change can really occur.We’ve learnt thatcreating change in these systems only works if you concentrate on delivering service design in meaningful parcels. It’s not only possible – it’s essential.
  • Finally and most importantly, and, quite simply, we love service design in the pubic sector because it’s complicated.For us that means:The work we do affects hundreds of thousands even millions of people in a real way, and at the same time the thousands of people who work within the service delivery agency we are working with. That means, we deal every day in large and complex social and organisational systems. So we get to navigate the reality of organisational cultures as we seek to balance enforcement, compliance, debt and security, with access, support, positive outcomes and peoples social position.It also means pretty much on every piece of service design we do, we scratch our heads. We can’t just market and drive people to service without thinking about how it is connected to a range of other services and touchpoints, policies and approaches. So we also get to challenge dominant thinking and practicesIt’s complicated, it’s fascinating, it’s addictive (in a good way!)It challenges us as people and designers.
  • JUSTINSo today we want to show you the world we love, through what we’ve done, the environment we work in – the environment of government and social change, and the outcomes we seek.The presentation covers our definitions of services in the public sector context, show you some work that we’ve undertaken that we are excited about and then let you know what we think about the current debate (obsession) in public sector circles around THAT word innovation as it relates to service design.
  • Case Study 1 The NZ Government made support for small business a priority area for policy and service development, and a piece of work called The Information Strategy for SMEs was initiated as part of a new service design ethos. It was an attempt to better understand how customers use information and how we could get better at helping them. Because when ‘them’ is the engine room of your economy – that’s pretty important. 
  • How we did it:We started by asking ourselves – what was information (not just ours), and how do customers use information to do their run their business. Research was undertaken – around New Zealand – flower farmers, publishing houses, strategic firms, roofing companies - city, urban, rural.  We discovered amazing insights – never known before from market research or satisfaction surveys or from frontline knowledge:how small business handle change, and how unhelpful IR information wasSMEs use information for different and specific purposes that we didn’t design forTax is not a separate activity, but is integrated into the process of running business Analysis was undertaken –frameworks emerged on:How customer use information – IR produces a newsletter, a SMEs sticks it to their wall as a memory triggerExperience phases highlighted what small businesses go through when learning or maintaining a processTypes of customers, not by tax type or demographics, but based on behaviours, motivation and expectation. Probably more important, based on who dealt with the information which wasn't always the business owner – we uncovered practical experts to just get it done types.
  • A beautiful artefact was produced. It was proudly delivered to the sponsor. And then ….. The reception was underwhelming to say the least. Some of it was because decision-makers moved on, other organisational priorities came about.Some of it was because the work was just ahead of its time – in terms of what the work showed the organisation it needed – from missing and non-traditional capability, from a customer-centric perspective, and from viewing information as an organisational asset
  • But the thing about the public sector is things don’t disappear. The social outcome of helping SMEs never goes away. And because things don’t disappear a whole range of positive projects came along that utilised the findings, frameworks and insights originally developed and put them to practical use. Some of those included A project to proactively outreach to Small Business Customers who were new to business (Outbound calling)  75% compliance rates resulted. The following year a project called the SME experience model was initiated, it put into one place all the information IR held about SMEs. It was an artefact for decision-makers, policy makers, and was also a tool for frontline staff.Staff were able to identify at point of interaction key behaviours, attitudes and communication styles.‘KS35’ - this was an artefact created in two weeks that helped out that stressed out small business, call centre operator and design team. In itself this piece of small work (tagged on to the end of a 12 month program – the original solution was one we knew would generate calls and confusion)
  • Along the way these activities consciously: We Built capability – which mattered because that capability, and more importantly the people, remained – hearts and minds were transformed with the projects, and anytime small businesses were involved the Info4Smes findings was discussedWe Created meaningful artefacts – which mattered because these remained – what you create in government is also subject to the Freedom of Information Act – so they really remain Most importantly, it started with thinking about the customer as a real person, one who doesn’t live to pay tax– and then actually talking to real people to uncover their reality. From this, the next key shift in thinking was connecting that reality to the service experience – the ole chestnut of outside-in, to inside-out.. None of this occurred in a neat linear flow – people, artefacts, decision-makers, policy intent, operational intent – all of these evolved over time. And if there’s one thing the public sector has none of and plenty of its time. Playing a long game to bring these together through time is what we were able to achieve.
  • We’ve mentioned the word service a lot – let’s define it from our perspective
  • There are customers who have goals
  • There are touchpoints – channels – interactions
  • There are paths to reach those goals based on the trigger for the customer to want to achieve that goal, and the pathway they take is based on their life circumstance, their access to channels, devices.We, as service designers, craft the system – touchpoints, support, strategy, infrastructure, process, so that the quality of the experience means they satisfy their goals and they want more. The value of the service is as much about the quality of the experience for all the people involved (customer, service provider) as it is about the resolution.So what’s a government service like?
  • It’s basically the same.  However what underlies the experience and delivery is different. As is the reason that service exists. Choice – most of the time you don’t have any choice but to use the serviceThere is only one organisation that collects taxWhere else do you go to receive a benefit or access an entitlement? Delivery - Noisier than other servicesMultiple agencies and even non-for-profits may play a role depending on the need, or on the legislated outcomeBreadth of users means it has to be designed to cater often for every citizen, or every user, or every potential user Compliance - More demanding on usersWhen you fill out a form often there is legislation behind particular pieces of information sought. In fact, even filling out the form may be a form of law abiding! – those who flew in from outside of Australia will be familiar with that.It’s about participation and engaging people – whether they want to or not Compliance is all about public perception – because if people don’t comply it gives them an advantage over everyone else – how would you feel about doing the right thing if you knew the person next to you wasn’t
  • And this is what people say about using a government service Perhaps unlike the private sector, a Government service is essentially about satisfying people’s NEEDS, not wants. And it’s also about satisfying the needs of the social outcome and policy intent. It’s at this point we would hate for you to think that there’s no desire for government services to ‘delight’, however, delivering a service to people which matches what they think you should be doing already and doing that well – that’s a great government service. 
  • Now we’d like to talk about a case study that highlights our sticky steps
  • We can’t mention the agency in the next case study, which is illustrative of a lot of the work we do. But try to imagine you’re an Executive in a Defence organisation. You are essentially an internal service provider to the large web of other defence agencies that deliver services across the country and internationally and what used to be a simple contracted service – routine, well regarded, has started taking too long. And this one thing, among hundreds of other things you’re responsible for and that you have to make decisions on every day, every week, in your Executive Groupis critical to the successful outcome of not only defence, but immigration trade national security more broadly. In simple terms, the outcome of getting this right is that there is a clear line of sight that runs from your business running better through to high-level social outcomes like: asylum seekers processed, borders protected, national security assured.
  • How we did itIt started because the executive stopped putting up with the way things were and was willing to change it. Within a collaborative service design approach we worked closely with the people who source, manage and deliver the information to the executives. We found:Duplication in the mountains of material developed which the execs are expected to take inLack of prioritisation to support decision-making or even tell a compelling storyNo business narrative in the basic data presented – nothing to help understand what it actually means Each of you here have probably come across similar circumstances and similar internal services. And we know that’s because the service evolves or is developed – it’s not designed.So new frameworks are developed based on:The kind of material that can deliver quick and accurate decisionsThe preferences of a group of Executives with different learning and comprehension stylesThe links between the data that is collected and the decisions that need to be made An artefact is produced. It’s a brief, like many briefs you might see, but this one is different.
  • It’s gone from screeds of disparate information and quarterly reports to a delivery format that enables and doesn’t constrain the Executive group.But now that you can make clear decisions, based on a shared language and a view to the business outcomes you are seeking, you are better placed than you have been.The key to this approach for us was enabling the client to have a clear language. A clear and constructive way to understand their business and how it related to broader social implications. It’s not a magic solution. You’re still in the middle of one of the most controversial policy applications in the country. You’re still behind on delivering the capability required to deliver your routine piece of the puzzle. 
  • What happened:In this case, the success of the first redesign of the Brief leads to a change in the entire Executive’s expectations. Briefs are no longer just part of the paper pile handed out at quarterly meetings. The Brief shows that information (data) can be meaningful and more is demanded. Templates developed, other areas improve.People – the exec and the staff involved are able to do things differently and see things differently. Better.
  • On reflection the sticky stuff spreads. People see it, use it and demand it – and that’s where real change occurs. This project led to a subsequent piece of work was a similar treatment in the security and workplace health and safety.When your WHS includes frontline defence, and your incidents can range from a broken nail to fatalities – it’s a serious business and one that requires attention.This piece of work could have been called the “Important Information Redesign and Transformation Project”. Teams of analysts could have been brought in. Defence organisations don’t mind and IT refresh and this was a classic candidate. But we all know what that means. IT Vendors, IT solutions, timelines, project plans, implementations. All this needed was the development of frameworks, the sharing of a language that suited the users (Executives) and their need to make decisions. And a word template. That’s all.It’s not all neat though. This piece of work occurred within the kind of client or environment we deal with on a daily basis, the complex organisation. And complex organisations require a unique approach – particularly when they are complex, public sector organisations.
  • So what does the kind of organisation we define as complex look like?
  • Well, we start with an organisation that looks like any other (this is a deliberately simplified version but already complex enough!).The organisation hasCustomersChannels and touchpointsService delivery and operationsStrategy, finance and infrastructure Leadership All of the elements that you’d expect to see (and by complex we don’t necessarily mean big – I’m pretty sure you all see hallmarks of organisations you deal with both big and small).
  • This slide looks the same as the organisation we were just looking at but now we have some additional layers of complexity – the first and most obvious being Government itself.So take an insurance company. Large, complex and working within legal and regulatory frameworks, but strategy and focus is completely determined by the leadership of the company (to be fair through shareholders in some cases).In this world the departments and related agencies have no choice but to operate within the defined vision of the government but also their entire job is to deliver for the population (in response to social outcomes and what is defined as ‘the greater good’ at any given time).Sounds pretty easy working towards the greater good, but when that can be redefined every 18months (some might say every time shock jocks or focus groups speak) then it’s tough.
  • There’s are additional layers of complexity that public sector organisations are dealing with. External factors that make their operating environment complex include:TheLife cycle of change is driven byElectoral cycle – as I mentioned increasingly closer to 18 months than three years (but we’ll see how that goes this time)Public / political discourse including an ever increasing and aggressive media cycleBudget measures determining priorities which are influenced by both local fiscal movements and increasingly global Everything comes back to a legal framework that they are bound to work in but are also the custodians of and developing themselves all the timeAs well as these external factors, and in fact potentially because of them, the internal environment is highly complex as well:Significant pieces of work are driven by key policy documents that contain policy intent that may drive and in fact pre-determine service outcomesCapability building for people is key – capability is considered a key asset because these organisation inherently strive to minimise turn over as it directly affects services and retain institutional knowledgeDecision making is overwhelmingly driven by where it is made rather than what the decision is! These organisations strive for consistency, order and predictability and this manifests in structure determining decisions. And this notion that organisations aren’t meritocracies – this can happen in the public and private sector – is overt and part of the every day language.
  • Let’s look at a third case study that highlights our principal of ‘It’s complicated’
  • This case study was a collaborative piece of work we did between Medicare and ThinkPlace Imagine that due to a chronic disease or mental health issue you’ve gone from someone who has an active engaged life to becoming so isolated that to even get out of bed to walk into the doctors surgery for help is overwhelming.Now imagine you’re the agency paying for and regulating the system that manages and delivers the care for that person. The Care Plans we’re talking about are designed to allow for GPs to spend more time with people with these conditions. The policy agency DOHA intent is to ensure better outcomes for the most vulnerable by coordinating the care the patent access through a range of free or subsidised consultations with teams of experts. The goal is improving the patients overall health and lifestyle. So now imagine you’re Medicare. You’re managing someone else’s policy (DOHA)Your managing outsourced providers with one of the strongest and loudest unions in the country (GPs and the AMA) Your also trying to cope with the range of professions brought into the system by the plan (dentists, dieticians, podiatrists, mental health nurses)You’ve got to do all of this whilst ensuring public money is being spent wisely, looking after some of the most vulnerable people in societyAnd you know, and the sector knows, you’re about to kick off a major compliance program. This time, instead of charging straight in to audit and compliance (and there’s plenty to audit thanks to the detailed guidelines of the plans) we’re able to stop, and ask the question, ‘do we know how this policy and how this system works in practice’?
  • How we did itWe started with GPs and their practices. We interviewed Doctors and Practice Managers, Practice Nurses, Mental Health Nurses, AHP. Large practices in the city, small practices in the country.Enough to give a broad range of views on the reality of managing this policy at the front line – which was a critical piece of missing knowledge.  We then bought together more representatives for a series of workshops where we gave them the pen, the post-it’s, the floor for them to capture their paths. After much venting (bearing in mind major funding changes were about to be announced in the middle of the project) they told their story – to each other, to us, and to Medicare.They shared their reality and nothing can be more stark than the difference between and administrative line item like the 2702 vs a 2713 and the stories of people bringing shotguns to reception because they are so overwhelmed by their lives.
  • What we createdSo, the experience of managing the Plans is mapped. And the map itself is complicated and powerful. It turns out:for practices the plans are just one Government initiative they have to deal with. The implementation and management of the policy, combined with normal Practice management (and multiple disciplines within those and related practices) is a complex web of relationships and paperwork. A lot of paperwork. The map is then validated with users again to create even more insights. The most surprising outcome is that this spider web is considered by the users of the system themselves as maybe not complex enough. And in the process findings, observations, insights are discovered that not only help the compliance agency, but that might just help the GPs and other allied health professionals and in the long run patients. Key discoveries emergefor the agency and the participants:Rather than not complying, a lack of understanding of the requirements has led to many GPs and Allied Health Professionals to over comply – actually reducing the amount of time they spend with patients. Practices and business models have been structured around program – actually shaping the business sometimes in absence of patient outcomes.
  • What happenedOften with our pieces of work we have a long term relationship, but sometimes in can come down to a single presentation. In this instance for the first time policy representatives, compliance and operationalrepresentatives were brought together to hear about the journey of the work, and engage with the reality of the people using the various system in action – chronic disease and mental health management systems, the health system, the practice management system, and the social system . And it makes an impact. They see what they cannot ‘unsee’ – theirsystem as it is. It put the people in a position that they understood what needed to be done next.It created an engagement with the medical professionals unlike they'd experienced beforeAnd in this case, we were lucky enough to be working with a client who had not only navigated us from the inside out, but who also was motivated to move on to the next step.And what might those next steps be:influencing policy maybe, influencing the administration of the system definitely, enhance both compliance activities and potentially the health professionals own practices. Yes.
  • It’s not only complicated when you’re in it, but it continues. In this case we were involved in a discrete piece of work and even then with a particular focus on compliance, but life goes on in this sector – patients are still presenting, fights over funding continue occur, people have views over the appropriate kind of care that should be delivered.So even though this was complicated and got us scratching our head we know what we and the team produced will help not only make sense but drive future work – much like the earlier SME example.
  • Innovation was top of mind because when we were given the opportunity to speak here we had just written and article defending the role of design in the public sector triggered by a debate around the centre of excellence the Dept of Innovation is establishing.When we thought about it more we were more inclined to say ‘Innovation? Shminnovation”There is an existing and growing design capability with government agencies in Australia, in New Zealand, UK, European countries that is both emerging or maturing.ATODHSCustoms and Border ProtectionDept of Finance and Deregulation has pockets forming – such as the Govt Info OfficeNZ IRDIA Service Design centre of excellenceBut we would rather focus on Service Design as an innovation process than debate the definition of the word itself. 
  • If you define innovation in process terms – service design is an innovation process – we have no more to say on that in terns of debating or defending that proposition.
  • If we’re forced to come up with a definition for innovation this is the one we favour: For us what’s key is this propelling of systemic change it’s why we believe in the sticky stepsin the social outcome focus that equally engages people externally and internally, and it’s why we embrace the complicated complexity - because we’ve seen it work. Perhaps the greater challenge to government is how to measure the impacts of innovation on social outcomes.  Is it better than when we started?Implement and do well what people think you’re doing / should be doing already.
  • We don’t confess to know the answer, but the measurement discussion is maybe more necessary than the innovation one.   Perhaps it boils down to how Charles Owen characterises design measures - works, doesn’t etc.
  • What we hope we have shown today is some examples of the steps it takes for change to occur in government both internally and externally – and how it does happen.  We really do love service design in the public sector….
  • Because people are great – customers, citizens, staff, Band 1s, APSs, ELs – and they want to make a difference, they want a great society. And for the most part, they’re willing to trust the likes of us to help them achieve this in a different way then they’ve tried before.
  • Because it is possible to change the system when you take in steps
  • And because sometimes love just is complicated.
  • Public Sector Design - Driving Internal and External Change One Step at a Time

    1. 1. PUBLIC SECTOR DESIGNDriving internal and external change one step at a time
    2. 2. W SDIPS(we love service design in the public sector)
    3. 3. W SDIPS It’s driven by social outcomes (that means it’s about citizens and the organisation that delivers the services)
    4. 4. W SDIPSIt’s possible to change the system through (sticky) steps Diagram adapted from model seen at Transform 2011 Conference Mayo
    5. 5. W SDIPSIt’s complicated
    6. 6. Case Study 1   It’s driven by social outcomes (that means it’s about citizens and the organisation that delivers the services)
    7. 7. Case Study 1  INLAND REVENUE (NZ)Information Strategy for Small to Medium Enterprises
    8. 8. HOW
    9. 9. WHAT
    10. 10. SO?Insights Frameworks Tangible social outcomes
    11. 11. It’s driven by social outcomes (that means it’s about citizens and the organisation that delivers the services)
    12. 12. WAITWhat’s a Service?
    13. 13. BUTWhat’s a Government Service?
    15. 15. Choice Delivery Compliance
    16. 16. AND HERE’S WHAT PEOPLE SAY: “They have “I have a knot the resources andin my stomach” responsibility to make it easier”“I’m OK with less frills if I can “With government,just get it done” simplifying doesn’t always mean no hassle” “I don’t have very high expectations - if it works, it’s good”
    17. 17. Case Study 2   It’s possible to change the system through (sticky) steps
    18. 18. Case Study 2   A DEFENCE AGENCY Executive Reporting Re-design
    19. 19. HOW
    20. 20. WHAT
    21. 21. SO?
    22. 22. It’s possible to change the system through (sticky) steps
    23. 23. WAITWhat’s a complex organisation?
    24. 24. Customers Touchpoints Operations Strategy
    25. 25. Customers Touchpoints Operations Strategy Government
    26. 26. Customers Touchpoints Operations Strategy Government
    27. 27. Case Study 3   It’s complicated
    28. 28. Case Study 3   MEDICARE Chronic Disease and Mental Health Care Plan Pathways
    29. 29. HOW
    30. 30. WHAT
    31. 31. SO?
    32. 32. It’s complicated
    33. 33. INNOVATIONshminnovation
    34. 34. PROCESS
    35. 35. OUTCOME Innovation is aboutcreating new forms of value that anticipate future demands and expectations, andpropels systemic change Quote adapted from Andrew Zolli
    36. 36. Works / Doesn’t Fits / Doesn’t Elegant / Isn’t Sustainable / Isn’t Correct / Incorrect Better / Isn’t From Charles Owen
    37. 37. W SDIPS(we love service design in the public sector)
    38. 38. W SDIPS It’s driven by social outcomes (that means it’s about citizens and the organisation that delivers the services)
    39. 39. W SDIPSIt’s possible to change the system through (sticky) steps Diagram adapted from model seen at Transform 2011 Conference Mayo
    40. 40. W SDIPSIt’s complicated
    41. 41. Thanks!Justin Barrie Mel Edwards @JustinBarrie @skewiff @DMA_Canberra