In the latest posting on his blog, Design Thinking, Tim Brown poses the question of whether there is a more active role for design thinking in the flurry of rule making at the G20 Summit, the Copenhagen summit on carbon emissions, and with the U.S. policy reforms. In particular, he asks:
I am, of course, very interested in the role of design thinking and making in policy formation, communication, and implementation. Drs. Ann Schneider and Helen Ingram in Policy Design for Democracy (U of Kansas Press 1997) outline the role the design makes the identification of goals and problems, the definition of targets, rules, and tools; the forces of agents and implementation structures, and the framing of rationales and assumptions. Yet as in my response below, Tim Brown ignores the fact that rule making is itself an iterative process built on refinements based on "user" feedback.
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The failures of rule makings have to do with what Schneider and Ingram describe as "degenerative policy designs" in which:
It is the changes in value systems that boister changes in power systems that allow for generative policy designs to flourish. Design thinking plays a role in helping to make clear the value systems, the shift to new possibilities, but so does the thinking of anthropologists, doctors, artists, bakers, and every strata of society. Can design thinking play a more active role? Definitely as long as it does not become another set of technical experts who get in the way of the real voices, those of the People affected by policy designs and decisions.