Valuing design in public and third sector organisations

Joyce Yee, Hazel White, Lindsey Lennon

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


How do different stakeholders in service innovation programmes value design? This paper presents insights from a short (six-month) Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project aimed at identifying and mapping the impact and value of design in public and third sector organisations. As the role of design expands from its traditional role of idea generation, visualisation and prototyping to also becoming a catalyst for change (Kimbell, 2015), the importance of articulating the value of a ‘design-led’ approach to innovation is crucial. The paper identifies what ‘generic’ and ‘specific’ design-led approaches have been valued by different stakeholders and describes specific project outcomes and impacts. Our research insights have been derived from six case studies that were co-created with participants of service innovation projects. In the first phase of the research we interviewed 30 service users, service commissioners and service designers. The projects covered a range of sectors including healthcare, mental health promotion, youth services and social care across England, Scotland and Australia. In the second phase of the research, the insights gathered from the interviews were presented, discussed and built upon in a workshop with 11 of the interviewees focussing on validating the findings and additionally uncovering how best to evidence and communicate impact in a way that is useful to the participants. Insights into what has been valued points to the challenges of evaluating a design-led approach, the importance of valuing outcomes over outputs, finding appropriate channels to evidence and communicate value and building a sustainable culture of innovation. The perception of value has been enhanced by the process of sharing, reflecting and discussing what a ‘design-led approach’ means.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2015
Event11th European Academy of Design (EAD) - Boulogne Billancourt
Duration: 1 Apr 2015 → …


Conference11th European Academy of Design (EAD)
Period1/04/15 → …


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