Mariana Salgado and Pia Laulainen
In this article, we use four case studies to better understand our contribution till the moment to the work of the ministry. For each of them, we have done a visual synopsis.
Through MURAL pilot, designers enable, plan and support the use of a new tool, motivate creativity and visual thinking and strengthen democratic and horizontal working practices.
The designer brought a new way of listening to the stakeholders involved in the project: the NGOs that work with asylum seekers without a residence permit. Research results were visualized during the analysis process and for further presenting to the working group. This led to a smooth transition to the following steps and decisions in relation to the topic. Having a design-researcher (a designer that was trained as a researcher) brings more resources to do research and with that, it increases the quality of the work we do in the ministry.
Through this project the designer brought the possibility to do in-house research –which was not part of the working practices of the group. Previously the common way was to conduct desktop research and commission research to external research partners. More empathy and understanding of the people we are working for was developed in our group.
The designer led a co-design process in which assistants were fundamental players in mapping and bringing an overall understanding of their practices. On the basis of this, they suggest changes for making the administrative services more consistent and equal for all the staff in the ministry. Revisiting working practices in a participatory way, involving the workers in the designing of future development brings more commitment and positive attitudes towards change. Design work implies democratic working practices, this is an example in which these practices could make a difference.
Very often designers are invited into projects because of our facilitation or visualization capabilities without a more strategic understanding of what we can bring into the picture. This is why we wanted to highlight our input through four concrete examples.
We have introduced new working practices that have allowed us to listen to different groups in relation to the projects with a human-centered approach. This brings diversity and a broader picture of stakeholders and end-users to whom our work is directed.
Motivating the creation of future visions and scenarios is a way to stimulate public imagination and broaden the scope of what is possible. In our qualitative research work, vulnerable groups’ dreams and worries for the future have been always present to sparkle innovation. In our opinion, more work in this line still needs to be done and matured within the ministry in order to include these practices not as a nice add-on to have but as a priority in the development work.
Creative and collaborative ways of doing qualitative research within the projects have provided more and richer information for decision-making. We believe that bringing a variety of research methods and a more in-depth understanding of people, will allow better decisions.