The Role of Design in Policy Making
A Wicked Problems Perspective
Keywords:social design, social innovation, co-evolution of problem and solution, public sector, problem framing
The design discipline is of increasing appeal to a public sector confronted with ill-defined problems consistent with the socially-embedded. This paper explores the role of design in policy making projects, by means of two case empirical case studies. We establish and apply a wicked problems perspective to analyse data from; (1) MindLab and (2) Helsinki Design Lab. Findings reveal that design is specifically useful in the mitigation of wicked policy problems when harnessed by a strategically composed multidisciplinary team including designers. The characteristics of design that are identified as essential are an interactive approach to problems, a holistic perspective, and a user-centred way of working. This paper contributes empirical evidence toward the role of design in policy making, drawing the two domains together via wicked problems theory.