Seminar Highlights: Policy Innovation and Inclusive Design

It's definitely a tough day and a day that many of us will never forget. 

I admit that I am not into politics and I don't pay much attention to news either. Therefore, I won't comment much on what happened and why.

So why this post?

As a designer and a student at the Royal College of Art, I had the privellge of attending to two insightful lectures today (making this surrpressing day a productive day): first it was the Service Design Seminar on public service innovation presented by Marco Steinberg, founer of Snowcone & Haystack and Andrea Siodmok, Head of the Policy Lab in the Cabinet Office; second it was John Maeda, discussing about 'Computational Design and Inclusion'. 

Highlights & Takeaways

  • The world is full of 'centers', not only 'a center'.
    No single voice (or perhaps we should say the 'mainstream' voice) should be able to represent the entire crowds.

Air Canada flight route map

Air Canada flight route map

  • Rethinking the definition of 'a good government'? 
    We’ve been led by those ‘successful leaders’  (or even their sons and daughters) hence lag of realizing the shift in reality. Does the success in the past still fit for today's society? Or does it blind us from seeing the reality? What role does the government play? Should they offer support in enabling the people to do the things people care about?
  • We need 'a portfolio approach' to change.
    Currently, there are many projects running in parallel but does not align to a mutual interest, therefore leading to resource waste and inefficiency. Projects need to add up to positive change. It is crucial to understand how each projects are connected and acknowledge the interests of different parties.
  • We are moving from risk to uncertainty.
    We cannot and should not handle uncertainty the same way we handle risks. Risk - Measurable by statistics; whereas, Uncertainty - Lack of measurement, no precedent (ie. climate change, policy transformation). Plan implement and change should happen at the same time, not a process. And the role of design here is to transform uncertainty to risk (through prototyping) and nudge towards solution.
  • Admit being ignorant, remove presumptions.
    Sometimes, we don't mean to be exclusive. We thought we were considering 'everyone', but that 'everyone' is just someone like 'you'. John Maeda gave the example of Snapchat not being able to capture black people's face on their face filter function. It is not that the designers/developers at Snapchat are intentionally exluding people of color, it's just that when they tested the product there were no black people on the team.
  • Just because it was easy, doesn't mean there is no 'learning' involved.
    Compare between cars and cameras: cars are bigger than camers but their maunal size are significantly the opposite. Why? Because we had to take driving lessons and pass the test in order to drive, but there's no test required before purchasing a camera (right?) 
  • Good things take time.
        - esign is about finding patterns. 
        - esign is best when familiarity + Novel
        - cheiving simplicity is complex
  • Start doing it...
        - Change the default
        - Work at the extremes
        - Take on the impossible

I found the two talks very inspiring and reflect upon the current social issues that is happening around the world (not limited to the US election today). Yes, I admit that I know too little, and perhaps ignorant in someway, maybe being too comfortable in my bubble – it's time to change that.