Archives For design of government


Now that government data is becoming more readily available, there are lots of interesting uses. Here’s one that we worked on with the Sunlight FoundationSitegeist is a mobile app that helps you access US Census data and other public details about a neighborhood. This means you can check on everything from average rent prices to how people commute—in seconds.

Try it on a local neighborhood. What did you learn?

(Posted also on my LinkedIn Thought Leader blog)

How might we improve the way citizens and governments interact?

This is the question posed by the current Knight News Challenge, a media innovation contest open to participants anywhere in the world. Winners receive a share of $5 million in funding from the Knight Foundation and feedback from a collaborative network of peers.

IDEO has customized the software platform that runs to help the Knight Foundation transform the way they run their news challenges and issue grants. Join the challenge and submit your ideas here.

What’s your favorite media innovation today?

(Posted also on my LinkedIn Thought Leader blog)

Reflections on Davos 2013

February 5, 2013 — 1 Comment

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I recently returned from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The overall sentiment there was one of cautious optimism. While there is a long list of major problems to be tackled, the immediate prospects for the global economy seem reasonably good and there is a sense that most economies will grow this year.

The theme of the week was resilience—the question being, how do companies and countries weather the increasing volatility of markets, society, and climate? One obvious conclusion is that resilience requires the ability to rapidly react and innovate in changing circumstances. Creativity and design can help make organizations more resilient.

Another theme was the growing focus on tackling global problems that are associated with basic human needs. I couldn’t help but reflect upon the Designing for Life’s Necessities post in December. Access to healthy food and clean water, achieving active healthy lifestyles, redesigning broken healthcare and education systems, creating new jobs, supporting aging communities, and mitigating the effects of global warming—these were all topics of discussion in Davos. My sense is that in the next year more large corporations, governments, and NGOs will be looking for creative ways to address these issues.

Davos is a place to meet intellectual superstars and I was fortunate to spend time with both Daniel Kahneman (father of behavioral economics) and Clayton Christensen (of The Innovator’s Dilemma fame). They both offered wise words about purpose, success, and happiness—while commenting on the dangers of taking a conventional view of success and happiness. In particular, how companies measure success today in terms of return on capital.

How will you measure purpose, success, and happiness this year?

(Posted also on my LinkedIn Thought Leader blog)

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(Above: image from — Principle 10, Make things open: it makes things better.)

The UK government is leading the way in using design to create simpler digital services for its citizens.

A 2010 report commissioned by the government made a series of strong recommendations, including creating a single ‘front end’ for all government digital services, releasing API’s to government data, creating a central team with absolute control over all interaction experiences for digital services, and appointing a CEO of Digital with absolute authority over user experiences across all digital channels.

Under the direction of Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude, the government followed these recommendations—and they followed them very well. Continue Reading…

I recently moderated a fascinating session at the World Economic Forum ‘Summer Davos‘ in Tianjin, China. Two network scientists, Cesar Hidalgo of MIT and Albert-Laszlo Barabasi of Harvard, discussed the underlying science of how networks operate and how this knowledge might be applied to business and economics.

At the outset of network science a key question was raised: are networks random? If so, all nodes would be more or less similar to each other. But that is not the case. The reality is that certain nodes have more connections than others and play the role of hubs. New nodes in a pre-existing network tend to connect with highly connected nodes. After a certain threshold, the removal of highly connected nodes can make a whole network fall apart. Thus interconnectivity is beneficial but also brings in vulnerability: if you and I are connected we can share resources; meanwhile your problems can become mine, and vice versa. This happens in many different kinds of networks, from financial systems to social media to electrical power grids. Numerous complex systems can be mapped and analyzed, such as transportation and biological systems.

Network science and tools are readily available to shed light on factors that were not considered in the past and to inform decisions in many different sectors and organizations. The adoption of network science and tools for decision-making are especially powerful when designing for complexity. Hidalgo even proposed that the future economic growth of nations can be predicted based on an analysis of networks of production.

In our own organizations, network visualizations and analyses can be used to inform management decisions by looking at how employees connect to each other and how information flows through networks.

Here’s more from the session on the power of networks:

(posted also on my LinkedIn Thought Leader blog)