I’ve been busy co-ordinating a conference that brings together practitioners from inside and outside of the public sector to discuss the application of design to the craft of public services. Stirling University are hosting the event in partnership with our friends visiting from Lapland University . The event is free to attend and is focused on cross pollination of ideas, based on stories of success and failure of Design in the public sector. We are particularly keen to highlight stories where there is longevity of approach and measurement of impact.

Design thinking has gained recognition in the past decade as a supportive method for complex problem solving, the development of human-centred products, and an ideal practice for organising complex information and interactions. It has also been recognised as a useful process for the development of public service initiatives; with Service Design becoming the commonly adopted umbrella term for the application of user-centred design approaches to improving public service experiences through multi-stakeholder engagement.

Service Design and, more widely, design thinking’s profile, has been raised in Scotland through public sector bodies adopting these processes, local government’s embedding them in-house and Government working with design partners to look at future ideas. We are now reaching a critical point where there is an understanding and wide spread recognition that design and its principles, when applied to complex future scenarios, have a role to play in the development of public services and government policy.

Design is being applied in context to address complex emerging problems, including an ageing population, dementia, mental health, crime, education and waste. Add into this mix opportunities around open data, technology, smart cities, new forms of open partnerships, co-operative models and we have the potential to rethink the way public services can be designed and considered in the future.

Doors will be open to all sectors and educational institutions to collaboratively consider the role Service Design (and, more widely, design approaches in general) plays in the past and present renewal of public services.

We are currently finalising our speakers and time slots but so far we have brilliant and diverse group confirmed:

Jari Rinne and Satu Miettinen of Lapland University

Louise McCabe of Stirling University

Sarah Drummond, Co-founder of Snook

Julie Chrisite, PRESENT, Coproduction in East Dumbartonshire

Trevor Lakey, NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde

John Flitcroft and Jenni Lennox, Dementia Dog

Kate Dowling and Judith Midgley, IRISS (Pilotlight) 

Stuart Bailey, Glasgow School of Art

Anna Winters and Morag Campbell, Scottish Government

Lizzie Brotherston, Snook and Scottish Government perspective

Peter Ashe, ALISS and NHS

Lorraine Gray, Scottish Social Services Council

Mike Press, Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design

Lynne Wardle, Taylor Haig

Valerie Carr, RITA

Follow the hashtag #designforgov and remember get your tickets!