Policy Design – Towards Understanding and a Methodological Framework with Nenad Rava

Tuesday, March 21, 2017 - 18:30 to 21:00
sLab, Suite 410, 205 Richmond St. West
sLab people: 

How might we pursue policy design for systemic social change? A presentation and open discussion

Nedad Rava has been conducting a study on policy design for more than a year, while building it upon his 15 years of professional engagement with policy and institutional innovation. This will be an opportunity to present the findings (combined with Q&A), followed by critique and open discussion on the use of design in policy.

Interest in policy design has been increasing, but it is still being addressed by designers and policy researchers in isolation from each other. The design community has not produced much research on policy design and any that was done was with an almost complete lack of references to policy studies. Akin to some business research, most of the concepts and methodologies regarding policy design in the design community come from design consultancies, which seek business promotion rather than solid research. The policy community, while producing much more research on this topic, is divided between those who don’t consider policy design a valid notion at all, and those who approach both design and policy in much narrower terms. Moreover, in policy studies we can rarely find references to design research (beyond the so-called “design thinking” hype). Such isolation might be surprising until we realize that policy and design share the same roots in complex social systems approaches and decision-making, amongst others.

Why this is important? Firstly, if policy design is to be pursued for systemic social change it needs to be properly conceptualized and operationalized. Secondly, policy design might be a great new opportunity for further development for design research and practice – while also addressing some of the counterproductive tendencies in policy (e.g. techno-economic rationality, "evidence"-based policy, "deliverology"). Thirdly, it is timely to bring back a more comprehensive understanding of design and of policy that has the potential to deal with predicaments of complexity, stakeholder involvement, and working across silos. Nevertheless, the understanding will not suffice without identifying practical ways to deal with the real-life challenges of designing in the policy space.

About the Presenter

Nenad (Ned) Rava has spent 20 years in strategic development, out of which 10 years as consultant, advisor, expert, team leader and trainer/coach for governments, UN/UNDP, the World Bank, the EU, and bilateral and philanthropic development organizations. He has provided support to more than 25 governments/public sector systems in areas primarily including institutional innovation, strategic foresight, result-based management, strategic policy design, complex system change, and learning and capacity development. Ned has produced 40+ publications, (including policy papers and change methodologies) and worked on more than 50 projects cutting across diverse policy domains (health, education, social policy, economic development, decentralization). He has studied management, development policy, and comparative politics, and got his PhD on democratization and governance. Ned is currently the Consultant on Integrated Policy Support to the SDGs for the UN DOCO of the United Nations Development Group (DRT Fund: 12 countries, 44 projects, 20 UN agencies).