Report: EHDM conference Copenhagen

15 May 2014
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10 4 EHDMReport on the EHDM conference Copenhagen
On the 15th of May the European House of Design Management organised a conference on Encouraging Design Driven Public Sector Innovation, to preview the EHDM Toolkit and celebrate the potential of design and innovation in the public sector. Attendees heard from a range of speakers including industry experts and practitioners who have successfully applied design and innovation methods in the public sector.


Industry expert Christian Bason started off the day by introducing the challenges and opportunities for public sector innovation. He emphasised that in order to get more public sector innovation we need better, more ambitious leadership.

The audience were presented with three snapshots of successful design in the public sector:

  • Magnus Christensson from Socialsquare presented Denmark’s new travel planning system, emphasising that today’s services do not meet user needs. Changing user behaviour is key in developing experiences and it is important that a service operates at the same speed as its users.
  • Mie Bjerre from Copenhagen Living Lab presented an example from the business services sector: The Barrier Hunters. In this project ethnographic research was used to make the case for design, identifying opportunities for improvement.
  • Mette Mikkelsen from Designskolen Kolding introduced a great example of design in the healthcare sector, looking at designing daily interactions for severely disabled people. She emphasized the importance of measuring design and using design as a method for introducing change in healthcare, creating a common understanding of the problem.

During a panel discussion Christian Bason, Dorrit Bøilerehauge, CEO of Danish Designers and Mette Mikkelsen answered questions such as:

  • What are the challenges for design practice and design education in the future?
  • Public bodies often employ non-designers in projects - do they know what designers can do and where to find them?
  • What is design?

Michael Thomson, consultant at Design Connect, guided attendees through design's journey to public sector relevance. He argued that we need to better communicate designers' skills to the public sector to raise their awareness of design’s potential value. Businesses have been using design for a long time to innovate services and we should start using this experience in the public sector.

Andy Cripps, EHDM Project Director at the DBA, presented a preview of the EHDM Toolkit, highlighting its unique features:

  • The diagnostic: 12 questions to identify the project complexity and users' familiarity with design, to define user level.
  • The two processes; a strategic pre-process and an operational process.
  • Easy-to-use worksheets and step by step guide with checklist approach. The toolkit can be used as a whole, going through each stage of a process. Alternatively, it can be used on a stage-by-stage basis, using only what’s needed to improve a task.

Professor Daved Barry from the Copenhagen Business School gave his perspective on how design can be applied to develop organisational structures, and therefore also in the public sector.

Deborah Dawton, Chief Executive of the DBA closed the event by saying 'Yes, I believe that the public sector can change'.

We sincerely hope that the EHDM project can contribute to this change.

For the full report of the conference please register to the quarterly EHDM newsletter, or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for more information. You can also follow our progress through our social media platforms LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.

Contact BEDA  Koloniënstraat 56, 1000 Brussels (Belgium) t. (+32) 2 217 39 77  f. (+32) 2 217 99 72
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