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Introduction to Policy Lab

The Policy Lab, based at the UK Cabinet Office explores new innovations in policy-making. We are a small team of designers, ethnographers, policy-makers and researchers.

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Introduction to Policy Lab

  1. 1. Welcome to Policy Lab Introduction
  2. 2. Who are we? Why Government Labs? What we do Working with us Our approach Our methods An impact case study Finding out more
  3. 3. Who are Policy Lab?
  4. 4. Who are we? We are a creative space based at the Cabinet Office where policy teams across government can trial and test new ways of working. Through live projects we support policy teams to work with a range of experts to build the skills and knowledge they need to develop policy in a more open, data-driven, digital and user-centred way.
  5. 5. Who are we? We were set up in 2014 as part of the Civil Service Reform plan. Since then, we have worked with over 6,000 civil servants on over 40 policies. Our multi-award winning projects, bespoke training and online materials have increased the awareness of cutting edge policy tools and techniques across government. Follow us @PolicyLabUK Email us at
  6. 6. Who are we? We employ a small core team of policy-makers, ethnographers and designers based at the Cabinet Office supporting 17,000 policy-makers across the Government to trial and test new ways of working. Created for departments by departments, we work with a range of experts to build the skills and knowledge policy- makers need to develop policy in a more open, data-driven, digital and user-centred way.
  7. 7. Who are we? Our work sits on the edge of government opening up new opportunities to collaborate with cutting edge external organisations in design, data and digital. We offer secondments and internships to bring fresh thinking.
  8. 8. Who are we? Data, design & data industry experts Secondees and alumni Uscreates, Innovation Unit, LiveWork, Studio INTO, Nonon, CurrentWorks, Made Open, FutureGov, Involve, Superflux, Strange Telemetry, Data Design and So Mo. We are always interested in hearing from design, digital and data science agencies who would like to share their work. Andy Kepster, Cat Drew, Teresa Leitao, Helen Smith, Valentina Lopez, Iban Benzal, Holly McConnell, Professor Lucy Kimbell, Jasmine Robinson, Carol Pizatto, Laurence Grinyer, Robbie Allen, Jenna Gibbons, Julian Tollestrup and Felipe Valencia- Dongo. We support secondments from Universities including to date the Royal College of Art, Cambridge University, Northumbria University and UAL.
  9. 9. Some of our projects How can we support people to manage their health conditions & stay in work? How can we support victims of crime in a digital world? How can we meet the challenges of an ageing society? How can we prevent and help people exit homelessness? How can we improve the experience of tenants and landlords? How can we create a vision for the future of rail with passengers at its heart? How can we encourage businesses to provide better childcare solutions? How can we achieve £1trillion exports by 2020? How can we increase the take- up of free childcare for 2 year olds? How can we encourage young people to value their National Insurance Nos? How can we persuade people to use mediation services when they separate? How can we prevent absenteeism in schools?
  10. 10. Some of our awards How can we support victims of crime in a digital world? How can we prevent and help people exit homelessness? How can we encourage businesses to provide better childcare solutions? How can we achieve £1trillion exports by 2020? Winner: Cabinet Office Award for partnerships Finalist: Civil Service Award for Innovation Winner: Future Policy Network Award for ‘most inspiring individual’ – Sanjan Sabherwal Finalist: Cabinet Office Award for Leadership – Vasant Chari Nominated by UKTI: Civil Service Award for Innovation Highly Commended: Brilliant Civil Service Award for Impact Royal Society of Arts Bicentenary Medal for policy – Andrea Siodmok Honorary Doctorate in Civil Law for World Leading Design Thinking – Andrea Siodmok
  11. 11. Some of our articles How can we meet the challenges of an ageing society? Open Policy-Making Toolkit on RSA journal: The Future Policy-makers toolkit Civil Service Quarterly: The Lab Collective Brighton University Press: Discovering Policy Lab publication Discovering Policy Lab. called
  12. 12. Some of our media How can we meet the challenges of an ageing society? BBC Radio 4 The Fix Some of our team supported sessions in both series. TEDx Whitehall Cat Drew design and data TEDx talk . TEDx Wales Andrea Siodmok Oxford Martin School Andrea Siodmok RSA about the role of design thinking in Government. Andrea Siodmok
  13. 13. Some of our R&D How can we meet the challenges of an ageing society? 28 Levers for change framework and toolkit for policy-makers Innovation funding effectiveness with What Works. World first in Speculative Design in Government with GO Science
  14. 14. Department for Transport (DfT) Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Department for Education (DfE) Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) Ministry of Justice (MOJ) Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) Department for International Development (DFID) Department for Environment and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) Cabinet Office (CO) 70Whitehall Ministry of Defence (MOD) Department of Health (DH) HM Treasury (HMT) Department of Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) Policy Lab Home Office (HO)
  15. 15. Success As a result of collaboration and new insights our policy projects deliver better outcomes at lower cost. Our projects are being scaled and achieving savings. The Police Digitisation project is being rolled out across England & Wales, saving £3.7m. We have also reached many more through the open policy-making toolkit, Policy Lab blog and slideshare which altogether have had over 100,000 views.
  16. 16. Why Government Labs?
  17. 17. The 3 big Ds Design Digital Data
  18. 18. Why design? Design can: • Save money. Understanding user needs focuses our efforts on what people need (not what they don’t); prototyping spots errors early. • Generate transformative ideas. Reframing questions allow new ideas, and creative techniques generate fresh thinking. • Create people-centred services. User-centred design spends time with real people understanding their needs and designing services with them. • Tackle complex problems. Design works best on problems which require action from multiple different people.
  19. 19. Why data? Data science uses powerful computer techniques to analyse traditional data sets (like administration data or surveys) as well as new ones (such as social media data or digital data). Algorithms work far quicker than humans, meaning we can analyse huge amounts of data quickly and find unexpected patterns and insights
  20. 20. Why digital? Digital technologies can help us reach out to far more people to understand their views and crowdsource ideas. It can also provide much more efficient, accessible and tailored services online. Finally, providing digital services can create digital data, which allows us to understand how people are using them so we can continue to improve them.
  21. 21. Purposeful Innovation We help policy-makers to innovate. Our goal is to deliver purposeful innovation. Through a practical approach we help teams identify new solutions that deliver four key qualities (RISE): • Responsive to the needs of citizen’s and government. • Inclusive and open in our approach and outcomes. • Systemic in our ambition, embracing complexity and opportunities for collaboration. • Effective in delivering significant measurable impact and learning for the future.
  22. 22. We sit on the edge We experiment with new approaches here. If they prove to be valuable we bring them into Government and support their more widespread use in departments.
  23. 23. Skills, knowledge and expertise of the Lab and its associates: • Design Thinking • Ethnography and user centred approaches • New insights from data science and big data • Prototyping, concept iteration and speculative design. • Service design • Prototyping • Journey mapping and personas • Technology futures knowledge • Strategy and objective setting • Facilitation of away days and policy schools • Creative workshops What we offer
  24. 24. We open up policy-making Transparency of information Input of knowledge & experience PublicClosed Government Expertise Shared Expertise Engagement in process ParticipateInform Accountability for outcomes Government responsibility Shared responsibility
  25. 25. We bring people together Creating new forms of governance and system stewardship to tackle complex intractable challenges
  26. 26. Additive Manufacturing Quantum Computing Maker Movement Connected Home Cyber Security Internet of Things (IOT) Smart Cities New Materials Automation Data Democratisation Artificial Intelligence Genomics Precision Medicine Low carbon economy Nano technology Augmented Reality Flexible Manufacturing Drones Co-working spaces Networked Literacy Virtual Reality Data Science Sensing Planet Wearables Consolidation and Aggregation Flexible working Platform Revolution Citizens Smart Machines Smart Systems Smart Materials Smart Spaces Data Revolution Machine Learning Personal analytics Commerce in the Cloud Smart Robots Synthetic Biology Agri-tech Body Sensors Smart Energy Grids P2P assets Big Data Bitcoin We are future focused Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) Some of the emerging technologies that could shape future services.
  27. 27. How can we make it happen? What happened? Why did it happen? What will happen? We are evidence curators Prescriptive Analytics Descriptive Analytics Diagnostic Analytics Predictive Analytics Policy analytics ladder Hindsight The ability to understand something only after it has happened or developed. Insight The capacity to acquire an accurate and deep understanding of something. Foresight The ability to predict what will be needed or what might happen in the future. Outsight The capacity to create an overview of something beyond the bounds of the present combining various external data. What is happening? Investigative Analytics Oversight The means to assess something through indicators, checks and balances and standard setting data. Increasing volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity Adapted from Gartner
  28. 28. We focus on impact Service Design Service re-design & alternative delivery mechanisms There is no efficiency ‘silver bullet.’ There are many levers that need to be pulled to improve efficiency. Organisational Design Talent, Culture and Workforce Services Systems Markets & Competition Technology, Data & Targeting Markets Front-line service integration Empowering users: Co- production & co-design Prevention / early intervention Reconfiguring services Workforce capability & leadership Shared services Sharing best practice Organisational structures Cost benchmarking Intelligent outsourcing New entry competition/ market creation Strengthened incentives Effective use of ICT Channel shift Effective use of data Technological advances Digital & Data design Technology, Data & Targeting Platforms Hard budget constraints, pay controls and spending flexibility
  29. 29. Policy dynamics The institutions of polity The art of politics The craft of policy The science of management The pragmatics of delivery
  30. 30. Styles of Govt intervention Providing and commissioning services Laws Regulation Funding, taxes, tariffs and subsidies Procurement, purchasing and buying powers Leading, influencing and informing Stewardship Large scale intervention Low level intervention
  31. 31. Leader Regulator Funder Provider Steward Customer Legislator Framing, piloting and market forming Acting in mature markets and policy ecosystemsEarly stage intervention Scaling, mainstreaming and market building Strategy and skills planning Prepare for changing workforce demands and consequences of change. Fiscal incentives Direct finance to stimulate new thinking that can drive future opportunities. Governance Ensure regulation supports the conditions for change and delivers the policy intent. Reformer Establish legitimacy, harnessing political will for change. Educating and informing Ensure regulation is sufficiently agile and permissive to enable innovation. Grants and subsidies Incentivise behaviour change through grants or other incentives Building regulatory environment Ensure regulation enables the intended policy outcomes. Service provider Provide services directly or indirectly through funding and target setting. Agenda setting Build awareness and confidence in new opportunities by providing thought leadership Innovator Create test beds, sandboxes and trials in real world settings. Encourage voluntary codes Self-regulation, without legislating, allowing for greater flexibility. Early adopter Explore, experiment and trial new opportunities with strategic value. Collaborating Providing platforms for citizens to protect vested rights and interests. Platform provision Scale up proven ideas through existing infrastructure and public services. Compliance Support enforcement and harmonise regulatory compliance environment. Choice architect ‘Nudging’ behaviour so that the default is both attractive and easy. Convening power Applying government’s convening power to draw together expertise. Connecting networks Fostering a nexus where government, experts and citizens can co-create change. Champion Build a case for change and alliances for action. Co-producing Co-deliver by steering different actors from across the system to deliver outcomes. Standard setting Develop standards for data collection and presentation. Intelligent customer Utilise public procurement to encourage investment and innovation. Catalyst Review, identify and prioritise key opportunities with strategic value. Consumer, and supply-chain, protection Protection of consumer rights and upholding of standards. White papers & draft bills Publish proposals for consultation and pre-legislative scrutiny. Primary and Secondary Law Support a bill through parliament and enact legislation Green papers Publish proposals for discussion with stakeholders and the public. Amend rules Statutory Instruments: rules, orders, created by delegated authorities (e.g. Secretary of State). Styles of government intervention* * Examples of different formal and informal powers and levers for government policy-makers Government as a...
  32. 32. What is our approach?
  33. 33. How do we work? Diagnose Establish scope & reframe questions Test and refine shared ideas and proposals DeliverDesign Generate insight through big data and user insight Be open and collaborative Generate fresh ideas Develop
  34. 34. Diagnose Policy Justification and framing the challenge. Developing and analysing the existing evidence base. Design Establishing the policy theory of change, impact measures and constraints Develop Generate and appraise options against design intent Deliver Prototyping options, refining measures and planning implementation PURPOSE Goals
  35. 35. Three levels of impact New skills, knowledge & Tools New Solutions Inspiring Projects Improved Performance Innovative Policy New Thinking 1. Delivering new policy solutions through inspiring practical projects 2. Building the skills and knowledge of the policy profession and civil service 3. Inspiring new thinking and innovations in policy through our experiments and writing.
  36. 36. 4 areas of work Lab Light Lab Experiments Lab Sprints Lab Demonstrators Support for up to a year to enable policy teams to work in new ways. Wrap-around support over a short intensive period of time to accelerate a project. Short introductions to using Lab tools and techniques. One-off trials of new and emergent techniques. • Policy schools • Awaydays • Mental Health Social Impact Bond (scoping workshop with stakeholders) • Export Jam (idea generation with 200 businesses) • Health & social care data (prototyping) • Supporting victims of crime digitally • Supporting people to manage their health conditions at work • Preventing homelessness • Increasing uptake of free childcare for 2 year olds • Supporting parents to stay in co- parenting relationships • Speculative design to explore the Future of Rail and Ageing society • Data visualisation of complex evidence
  37. 37. How do we work? Diagnose DeliverDesign Lab Light Develop Full demonstration projects Lab sprints Lab sprints Lab experiments Lab experiments Lab experiments Lab experiments Lab sprints
  38. 38. Our methods
  39. 39. Our tools & techniques Diagnose DeliverDiscover Develop Policy canvas Hopes & fears cards Challenge setting 5 whys Data discovery cards Personas User segmentation User journeys Desk research Interviews Data science Evidence safari Film ethnography Service safaris Crowdsourcing Ideation sheets Future speculations Change cards Role cards Service blueprints Desktop prototyping Experience prototyping Design ethnography User journeys Evidence safari Ideas days or ‘jams’ Speculative design Idea sketch sheets ‘Backstage’ policy levers
  40. 40. Our tools & techniques SpecialistBasic (or Lab in a day!) Intermediate User-insight Data Digital Diagnosis Idea generation Personas User journeys Service safaris Photo-based interviews Design ethnography Film ethnography Data discovery cards Google trends Online data visualisation tools, e.g. RAW, Dataseed Machine learning, predictive modeling, clustering/segmentation Reading twitter/online fora Posing questions on online fora Online questionnaires e.g. Survey monkey Online crowdsourcing platforms Online engagement tools A/B testing Ask ‘why?’ five times to get to the root cause Challenge setting Hopes & fears cards Policy canvas Metric sheet Evidence safari Change cards Brainstorming Idea sketch sheets Speculative designPolicy Jams or ideas days What if… Policy blueprints Policy intervention cards
  41. 41. Open Policy Making Open policy making is about developing and delivering policy in a fast-paced and increasingly networked and digital world through: using collaborative approaches in the policy making process, so that policy is informed by a broad range of input and expertise and meets user needs.
  42. 42. Futures labs Day long ‘futures labs’ can bring together key people from across the system to co-create policy ideas, roadmaps and action plans to bring different expertise to bear on future opportunities.
  43. 43. Hopes & fears cards We use images at the beginning of a project to get people using a different side of their brain, and to pick ones that visually represent a hope they have for the project or a fear. It’s a good way to understand the motivations of different people in the room right from the start.
  44. 44. Challenge setting Challenge setting is our way of finding the right question to answer. It takes many iterations!! By asking why five times, we can get to the route causes of the issue. And by asking ‘how can we?’ (as opposed to ‘how can I?’ we open up possibilities to a wider set of ideas which require more than one department.
  45. 45. Personas Personas are real or hypothetical descriptions of people who might be experiencing the policy or service. They help us to empathise with people, think about their needs and design policy that fits them. We use evidence to develop them and do a segmentation to avoid them becoming stereotypes.
  46. 46. Personas Personas are real or hypothetical descriptions of people who might be experiencing the policy or service. They help us to empathise with people, think about their needs and design policy that fits them. We use evidence to develop them and do a segmentation to avoid them becoming stereotypes.
  47. 47. Journey mapping ‘User Journeys’ are a step by step map showing how people interact with services. They can identify the highs and lows and therefore what aspects new ideas can build on or improve.
  48. 48. Ethnography ‘Design ethnography’ is the study of people and behaviours from their point of view. Building insight and ideas by shadowing users or spending time with them and discussing their lived experience in real life contexts. Films and photos can be extremely powerful in creating empathy and generating ideas.
  49. 49. Data science Through data science we can identify new knowledge, patterns and insights gained from large volumes of data. We can use new forms of real-time, digital data. Data visualisations like this Sankey diagram allows non-analysts to spot patterns and trends. And powerful clustering techniques can segment groups far faster than any human can.
  50. 50. Evidence safari An evidence safari is a technique we use to get groups of people to explore large amounts of data quickly, spot gaps and build insight from which to generate ideas. Here, we are using evidence in the form of charts and graphs, but also humanised into persona stories that people can relate to.
  51. 51. Idea sketch sheets We use creative methods to help people come up with new ideas. Sketching can help share germs of ideas during co- design sessions with stakeholders.
  52. 52. Open ideas days Policy Jams and open ideas days help engage wider stakeholders with policy areas and co-develop ideas. They often start by exploring evidence or asking stakeholders to share their experiences, and then generate ideas as a result.
  53. 53. Speculative design Speculative design imagines possible (rather than probably or predictable) futures and then creates an object or image from them. This tangible ‘thing’ allows to engage the public in a debate about whether we not we want that type of future, and what we would need to do to get there (or avoid it). Research before situations exist.
  54. 54. Service blueprints ‘Service blueprints’ and ‘Value maps’ can help show the relationship between different parts of the system now and in the future. We have adapted these for Government so they map out how a user experiences a policy, as well as the specifically Government functions (legislation, regulation, funding) make this happen.
  55. 55. Service blueprints ‘Service blueprints’ and ‘Value maps’ can help show the relationship between different parts of the system now and in the future. We have adapted these for Government so they map out how a user experiences a policy, as well as the specifically Government functions (legislation, regulation, funding) make this happen.
  56. 56. Prototyping An early model or mock-up built to test a concept, so it can be replicated or learned from. Prototypes help quickly build a service or policy idea to test assumptions. These can be made out of paper (like this online crime reporting tool) or tried out in real situations.
  57. 57. Some of our savings
  58. 58. Some of our engagement
  59. 59. Finding out more
  60. 60. Commissioning Lab We are always open to enquiries for new projects. We offer a quick overview of Policy Lab and an opportunity to work up a project idea in an introductory workshop for policy teams who may be interested in running a lab project. For more information contact: Or read our guide to commissioning Policy Lab.
  61. 61. Further information We blog all the time here And we put all of our tools on the Open Policy Making toolkit here
  62. 62. Check out our latest videos from Lab: Cat Drew shares her insights on design and data in her TEDx talk . Head of Lab, Andrea Siodmok speaks at the RSA about the role of design thinking in Government. Further information
  63. 63. International visits and visitors Senior Whitehall Group Presentation by Geoff Mulgan I- teams report (pictured). International workshops and speeches: Global Lab Leaders (Toronto, Marseille) Keynote speeches (Sweden, Australia, New Zealand) OECD change (Paris) SEE / BEDA (Brussels) Visitors: Australia, Canada, Estonia, Israel, New Zealand, UAE, US, China and Japan.
  64. 64. Further information We know this is a long powerpoint but if you are still interested in finding out more here is some more in depth reading: Our former research fellow Lucy Kimbell produced this booklet called Discovering Policy Lab. The RSA Journal article on Policy Lab called ‘Designer Policies’ We are in this quarter’s CSQ andrea-siodmok/