Making the most of collaboration focuses on the design stage of public service provision - where collaborative design principles are taking hold. It is based on a ground-breaking international survey of co-design, carried out in a collaboration between Demos and the PricewaterhouseCoopers Public Sector Research Centre. The research involved interviews with 466 public service practitioners in the transport, health, social welfare and education sectors, across the UK, USA, Europe, Latin America and Asia-Pacific.
The discussion paper reports on the findings, and sets out the key challenges that will affect the implementation of collaborative design principles in the future.
Our key observations:
Public services and governments around the world face pressures from a more demanding public, increasing social complexity and diversity, and overstretched resources.
Co-design is an international movement, happening across the globe with enthusiastic support from public service practitioners. Well over 90 per cent of our survey respondents claimed to have played some role in a project that involved the users of a public service in its design or development.
It is clear that co-design is maturing from principle to practicality, and in doing so reaping some of the very real benefits that its proponents have long promised. However, the potential of co-design can too easily lead to one’s asking simply, ‘How can we do more of it?’ In fact, the questions that we ought to be asking are more complex: ‘What kind of co-design works, and where?’ and ‘How is that co-design best implemented within its specific context?’
We have yet to see a consistent emergence of organisational cultures that support increases in collaborative service design. A commitment to the principles of collaborative processes can grate against existing methods of top-down service design. It is these cross-level and cross-perspective tensions that co-design practitioners are working towards resolving.
The territorial influence over the development of collaborative design is strongly evident, shaping the successes and failures across sectors. The results underline the need to understand the territorial narratives that have shaped professional roles, policy processes and resource allocations. This has implications for the scaling of co-design practices in line with increasingly global case studies and literature.