Report calls for a human-centered approach to public policy

20 February 2024 3 min. read
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Policy-makers need to ditch traditional approaches and embrace a more holistic and human-centered approach to keep up with rapidly expanding globalization and evolving technology. That is the conclusion of a report from Sia Partners, published in collaboration with the World Governments Summit, which recently met in Dubai.

The annual World Governments Summit is a platform for global cooperation in shaping what the future of governments should look like. Exploring government, policy, and innovation, the global meeting offers thought leadership and a networking hub for policymakers and experts in human development.

The report from Sia Partners and the World Governments Summit looks at the potential for policymakers to incorporate empathy into new policy by embracing new approaches.

Service design

"Service design" is an approach that integrates a framework focused on systems with a focus on user experience seen through a design lens. This approach equips organizations and policymakers with a systematic method to enhance service quality and the delivery experience. It involves improved planning and careful use of available resources.

An example of this type of policy comes out of South Korea, where the ministry of the interior brought in public servants and citizens to set new policy on things like hospital companions, solutions against dementia, farm hygiene, and reducing plastic use.

“Policymaking is a systematic approach to addressing societal challenges and shaping the course of events. However, in reality, the process is complex and multifaceted, and far from a traditional linear project flow,” said the authors of the report.

Report calls for a human-centered approach to public policy

Source: Sia partners

Policy work involves using evidence, politics, and delivery goals to create a plan. To succeed in this, policy officials must think critically and use a wide range of skills. They need to handle complex bureaucracies, plan resource use, and drive change despite resistance.

All of that requires strong analytical abilities, strategic thinking, and effective communication. Possessing these skills is crucial for analyzing data, understanding power dynamics, and building relationships by considering diverse perspectives, constraints, and emerging opportunities.

Policy labs

Another useful tool for shaping more human-centered policy is through policy labs, which are collaborative spaces where experts work together to develop and test new ideas for improving policies. They provide a hands-on approach to solving real-world problems through innovation and experimentation.

“Across the globe, the policy labs concept has proved to be a powerful catalyst for enabling and facilitating the integration of service design principles in public sector policy making. These labs are purposefully created hub environments for incorporating service design methodologies into the process of developing and testing new policy interventions,” according to Sia Partners.

One successful example is The Policy Lab, established in 2014 by the UK Cabinet Office with the aim of developing innovative policy solutions that take into account the needs and aspirations of citizens. The UK labs have been used in the design of over 200 complex policy solutions, mostly to do with public health.

The World Governments Summit, which ran from 12 to 14 February in Dubai, brings together leaders from around the world, including 20 heads of state and 250 ministers, to discuss future-focused topics. Since launching in 2013, it has evolved to cover themes such as smart cities, sustainability, and AI, aiming to shape the future of governments through global collaboration.