Jesper Christiansen: Redesigning the Culture and Functionality of Government

Andrew Young — May 15, 2015

At Design for Europe, Jesper Christiansen, Network member and Head of Research at MindLab, discusses the opportunities arising from public sector design labs working to reimagine governmental culture and functionality. Christiansen goes on to describe the many approaches that MindLab brings to the table to the end of designing better strategies for addressing public problems.

“A significant part of the functioning of government is the culture of decision-making and the professional expertise of public servants. Whether government interventions come in the form of laws, reforms, policies, regulations or the like, they have to be dealt with on the basis of their actual functionality: different processes of creating change in society. Consequently, public servants are ‘change agents’ (not solely analysts) responsible for enabling and processing political intentions and ideas in ways that will increase the likelihood of their intended impact.

We need to understand the role of the public servant in this light. And design approaches, methodologies and attitudes have the potential to influence the culture of planning, leadership and management of public servants. Design can leverage a new kind of knowledge management based on experimentation and prototyping that enables public policy to systematically research, rehearse and refine new concepts, ideas and/or intentions. All of which – I would argue – allow political intentions to become more human and practice-oriented, and thereby increase the legitimacy of public interventions.”