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Louise Downe

Louise Downe

Head of Design, UK government

Louise Downe is Head of Design for the UK government. She leads a community of designers working across government to reform the relationship between the citizen and the state. With a background in Art, Linguistics and Economics, Louise started her career as a journalist and producer at Tate.

Scaling service design and the challenge of problem-caring

How to work iteratively and efficiently in the public sector?

Delivering public services that truly meet user needs involves some big changes. 

Often this involves things like channel shift, overhauling back-end processes and introducing new technology. Basically, making sure that public services respond to technological and structural progress. Making sure they meet user needs and can continue to meet those needs.

The annoying thing about progress though is that it never stops.

In the past we thought things might be fixed at some point. We’d do the modernisation and then think that the world would just stop changing somehow in respect of the fact that we put a lot of effort into being ahead.

This perspective might have made sense when we had to wait more than 100 years between the invention of the telephone and the first home computer connected to the Internet, but makes literally no sense now.
The world is changing every day, and that change is getting faster.
Problems that are never finished need a different kind of solving - a kind of iterative problem-caring, rather than problem-solving.

So how do we do that? And what are the barriers we all need to overcome to be able to make real change for the long term?'