When we became policy designers and prototyped the future. WeQ is intelligence by many people who think and solve problems as a network interdisciplinarily. A little bit like the aim of this expedition which connects young people from different backgrounds, skills and interests. This concept is manifested in methods of design thinking. For example prototyping used to come up with solutions for difficult problems and to guarantee adaptability to new environments, interests and stakeholders.
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Can design thinking be applied in policy making? Some of us were sceptical at the beginning. Policy solutions aren’t products, or are they? Our two design thinking experts Marlen Klaws and Moritz Ettl from WeQ were energetic and optimistic that the same methods used to come up with a solution for saving newborns in africa (one of the showcases of successful design thinking) can be applied to solve social and political issues.
We first started with a warm up game where our policy topic groups competed against each other. We all had five minutes to build the highest tower out of white A4 paper without chatting to each other. A good team exercise to navigate, negotiate and fail to then start over – another concept of design thinking. Of all groups, the defense group had the highest tower. The tech group’s pile looked more like software on the ground rather than stable hardware.
Then we were given the task to visualise the problem or our policy recommendations in any shape or form possible. For that we could use paper, tape, legos and other supplies. In the tech group this resulted in a sculpture of little lego persons who represented the consumers, a look-alike drone which was caught by tape “the red government tape” and another new technology which was stuck under glass as a reference for a technology which could be unleashed in the future. Next the design thinkers made us brainstorm interests and values of the stakeholders.
Our stakeholders were businesses, consumers, governments and scientists. Each had different values and interests which we wrote on post-its. Little dots of paper would show which stakeholder would subscribe to each one. When we added them all on the whiteboard we realised that scientists do have a lot more interests or “stakes” in our policy recommendation than we originally thought. It was good practice to realise that we should focus more on this stakeholder group in the implementation of the idea.
Overall, this was helpful to visualize our recommendation and also helped us understand how we can communicate it to different stakeholders, especially the picture of the “taped drone” is a good reference point for future pitches.
Other groups were equally creative prototyping their ideas. The defense group created a moving prototype which connected all the stakeholders and interest. So when one one element changed its place, for example a country changes its strategy, then the rest of the stakeholders are affected.
All in all, we enjoyed the workshop, however, it would have been even more exciting to try some of the methods earlier on in the process, so we are not just visualising our idea and testing it but use design thinking to come up with the ideas in the first place.