Navigating social design projects in the public sector

On June 2-4 the 8th Nordes Conference was held at the new Aalto University in Helsinki, and we presented recent work: an agile model for navigating social design projects through the complex challenges that inevitably occur when designing and implementing new services in public sector institutions.

Who Cares? was the overall theme of the conference and in our talk we explained how the value of social design lies in the practice’s ability to care for vulnerable groups in our society. Taking two of our projects as examples – the Patient Empowerment Kit and Captivated – we went through some of the challenges that needs to be taken into account to deliver care for cancer patients and prisoners’ children.

Together with Vejle Hospital and The Danish Prison and Probation Service we have identified challenges concerning (i) how to evaluate whether social design provide life quality and well-being; (ii) whether professional practitioners such as health professionals and prison officers have time, skills and resources to support social design services; (iii) whether management is able to implement social design service due to issues of managerial structures, budgets and policy-making.

In our paper, we introduce a model for preparing, analysing and navigating projects through such challenges. The model relies on our experience gained from the two 3-year projects: Prometheus and Social Games against Crime.

The paper is published in the conference proceedings and can be found here