Design Thinking for Public Service Innovation

This is an in-house training course. For further information and pricing contact [email protected] or phone on +44 20 7661 7817.

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One of the most important approaches to emerge in public policy development in recent years is known as design thinking. Design thinking is particularly focused on how we can shape and organise public services and public administration to better serve the needs of users and citizens through innovation and collaboration. 

While many approaches to public service performance focus on how to secure incremental improvement, design thinking seeks to drive radical transformation, drawing on the insight and experience of service users and communities to fundamentally reshape delivery models at a time when governments and the public sector are facing unprecedented fiscal and demographic challenges. The course will show that approaches based on design principles are appropriate for governments across the world.   

Who is the seminar designed for?

The seminar is designed for public servants working at all levels in policy roles, who want to bring their thinking and approaches right up-to-date with the most modern and innovative approaches to policy formulation, design, evaluation, and delivery. The principles of best practice in policy making are evolving in today’s public services, and this course is designed to help you to understand how you can use design thinking in your role and as part of your team to deliver even better public services.

How will you benefit from attending?

The seminar will be useful to both policy team members and leaders. You will understand the main principles of design thinking, and how to approach these and apply them in the context of the civil service and wider public sector. You will benefit from understanding the different phases involved, preparing you for implementing these methodologies in your role. You will learn from the analysis of case studies, highlighting design thinking in practice, and understand how to prepare for, and overcome, some of the challenges you may face.

Learning Outcomes

You will:

  • Understand the main principles of design thinking and what is involved in applying these in the context of the civil service and the wider public sector
  • Learn how governments around the world apply these in the context of service conception, policy design, and service delivery
  • Analyse the main phases of the design thinking process
  • Examine a range of case studies on the process and application of design thinking in public service contexts
  • Understand the role of practical tools and methods to you work both innovatively and practically
  • Examine the challenges that public servants can face when using design thinking principles in their roles, and look at ways to overcome these successfully
  • Understand how design thinking approaches can help foster a culture of innovation in the provision of public services


Session One: General Principles of Design Thinking

Elaboration of the main principles of design thinking
How these can be applied to the management of public services and the role of government
How do governments tend to approach design thinking?
What are the benefits, and how do we realise these most effectively?
How do we unleash the potential of innovation by using design thinking approaches?
Questions and discussion

Session Two: The Different Phases of the Design Thinking Process

Outline of the main phases of the design thinking process, and how to apply it in civil service and wider public sector roles
Examination of some different approaches that have commonly been used in public sector contexts, along with their pros and cons, their implications, and their transferability
Questions and discussion 

Session Three: Case Studies on How to Apply Design Thinking in the Public Sector

Presentation and analysis of a range of case-studies where design thinking has been applied in practice in public services in a variety of national and organisational contexts
The role of practical tools and methods
Fostering a culture of innovation in public service design and delivery
Questions and discussion

Session Four: Overcoming Challenges and Barriers

Reflections on the challenges that practitioners might face in adopting design thinking principles in their everyday work
A look at the main barriers and obstacles for public sector teams and leaders in seeking to re-shape public services
Final questions and discussion


Our L&D ethos

  • We’re here to enable you to perform better

Our L&D Team

  • All former practitioners, now professional trainers, our L&D team have provided open and bespoke solutions for more than 100,000 public servants from 120 countries 

Our L&D seminars

  • A vast reservoir of international, transferable knowledge and perspectives about effective, delivery-focused approaches to working smarter in the public sector

Please contact us for further details, or to arrange a conversation with a member of our training team to discuss in-house delivery options, including tailoring the day’s training to your specific needs.

You can email David Leakey on [email protected] or phone on +44 20 7661 7817.

Crown Commercial Service supports the public sector to achieve maximum commercial value when procuring common goods and services.