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Embedding a co-design capability for innovation in a government department

Co-design capability boosts innovation in a government organisation

How can a government department make itself more sensing, adaptive and innovative? How can it improve its understanding of stakeholder needs and its ability to respond quickly to a changing environment?
Embedding a co-design capability for innovation in a government department

The Department of Health leads and shapes Australia's health system through evidence based policy, well targeted programs and best practice regulation. The department is under constant pressure to work at the forefront of good policy advice and program delivery. 

The department is equipping its staff with the skills to navigate and innovate in this world. It asked ThinkPlace to help with one initiative: the development of a co-design capability, as a tool to progress key strategy, policy and service projects.

Working with the department, ThinkPlace developed a program of three hands-on projects, allowing staff to apply design thinking to real issues. Over six months, more than fifty staff engaged in these prototype projects, implementing a co-design approach to current challenges.

Reflective practice was a key element of this program. We helped department staff reflect on their roles in the projects. They learned how a co-design approach may increase their awareness of the environment and their ability to respond creatively to changing needs.

We incorporated these lessons into the co-design service model we designed with the department. The combination of experiential learning and a co-designed methodology has integrated new capability within the organisation.

This capability is now being applied through new projects. The department is using a co-design approach to address existing challenges in other areas, offering progress for previously stuck problems.

The program demonstrated how co-design can strengthen policy development, program management and stakeholder engagement. An engaging and immersive skills development program embedded design thinking within the department, giving it a lasting ability to be more effective in a complex and changing environment.

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Department of Health
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