Initiatives to bring co-design to the organization

Picture from one ideation session

First of all: Why do we want to bring co-design? Co-design as a mindset aligns with the key government goals to have more flexible structures and less siloes, be more transparent and less hierarchical in the way the work is organised.

Like most designers in the world, we do project work. This means that the majority of our work is organized around projects. At the moment there are many projects running at Inland. In addition to project work, we have other activities we call INITIATIVES. Our initiatives are independent of our project work, and they are meant to bring co-design to the organization. They are also a way to maintain a stable amount of new projects streaming towards our waters.

What are our initiatives?

Road trips

a) Goal: get to know the challenges across the organisation.

b) Method: visit different Migri offices around Finland. In these visits we do ideation workshops as well as visit asylum seeker units and reception centers.

c) Results: new projects that come out of the units’ own initiative.

Service Design Ambassadors

a) Goal: bring experimental culture to the organization.

b) Method: a yearly training, where 35 civil servants from Migri participate. In this training participants develop service design solutions, and evaluate them. Participants spend 2 days a month for the development of these solutions. In order to develop these new services, they try out several methods and go through an iterative process in which evaluation with the end user is part of the design process.

c) Results: 8 experimental projects run and initiated by the participants of the training.

10 ideas for your unit

a) Goal: start to collaborate with a new unit.

b) Method: a presentation of ten ideas that is evaluated together with the heads of the units.

c) Results: we have started to collaborate in service design projects with HR unit.

Service library

  1. Goal: better communication of the services that Inland Design brings to Migri. We expect that people come to our office with a clear idea on what we can offer to them. At the moment when people approach us, they might have a wrong idea of what we can deliver.
  2. Method: we have created a service library. At the moment, this is a presentation. The idea is to explain, step by step, our way of developing new services in collaboration with other units.
  3. Results: people approach us, referring to the service library components.

Inland open hours

a) Goal: be available for people that are not currently collaborating with us.

b) Method: our office is open all thursdays from 10–12hs for other Migri workers to come and consult us. We have advertised this with posters in our premises in Helsinki. Other workers from other offices can also book time with us on these days.

c) Results: some people come to visit us during this time. Most of the ones coming have already been working with us before.

User research

  1. Goal: get to know the challenges of immigrants dealing with our services
  2. Methods: qualitative research in the form of workshops, video interviews and field visits to NGOs that work with immigrants.
  3. Results: Part of the results were shown as spatial interventions in our premises (origamis on the tables and video on the lobby screen). Direction and priorities for our future work. New ideas for future development.

Networking with other designers working in the government

  1. Goal: exchange knowledge with other designers working in the government. Being inspired and inspiring others. Building a network of designers that could facilitate the development of new projects together with other agencies that offer services to immigrants, such as Kela (social services), the municipality, Vero (tax office), etc.
  2. Methods: We participate in weekly online meetings, take part in conferences, organize events together with other designers and are active in social media channels.
  3. Results: our work has been showcased in national and international conferences, even though Inland’s work started only a year ago. We kick started two collaborative projects with other governmental organisations (Kela, Te-toimisto and others).

There are many designers working in the government as interaction designers, software consultants or graphic designers, to give some examples. Their work is project work. They make things happen by showing the results of the projects. But our endeavour is about the complex and challenging work of setting up and sustaining an in-house design lab in a governmental agency. This goes beyond project work.

It relates to the gradual change of working practices to harness an experimental culture in which emotional intelligence is also part of the question. The results of this work are changes in the attitudes towards our customers, our colleagues, our team, and the collaborative practices we are constantly proposing. In order to provoke these changes we do project work and in parallel we develop these initiatives. The consequences of the combination of project work and initiatives such as the ones described in this blog, are difficult to measure in a short period of time. We still hope to be able to witness some positive changes next year.