Depending on how closely you’ve been following our project, you may have seen references to the world being full of “wicked problems”. Well that isn’t just about issues like branding challenges, business models and product requirements. You just can’t escape news stories about the US government gridlocked over “debt ceilings”, European financial systems under threat, and more. The world is a mess, and it isn’t just politics. Pollution, clean water, poverty…it’s too much.
So it begs the question…is there room for design? Can design thinking be applied to these big social problems? As professional designers, we tend to work for corporations intent on growing businesses. We like to get paid, but what do we do to help solve more important problems than developing a new video game or phone buying experience?
Will it take the efforts of highly-energized design “crusaders” to make governments aware of new ways of seeing problems? How can we get governments to think and express information so there is better understanding and a more efficient arrival to solutions? Traditional approaches are getting in the way and can’t keep up. We need creativity to fix problems.
When you think of it, isn’t much of government about services? Let’s apply service design thinking…designers have helped create new experiences at post offices and made innovations in equipment for the military, for firefighters, for police, for hospitals…why hasn’t there been a place for the design mindset at a higher level of government? Does the phrase “politics as usual” have to truly determine how government works and what our expectations are?
We welcome your thoughts or any insights you have into how designers are getting involved in making a difference with the world’s big problems.
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