Design Doing for the Public Sector

A 6-week guided case study approach to helping you solve problems through design. 

Course Overview:

  • 6 week course
  • 2 hours per week guided live workshop
  • 12 teaching hours per team
  • Project-based approach
  • Office Hours avilable

Cost: $1,100 per person 
20% group discount per person available

Course Overview

We know you are busy, have a ton on your plate, but also want to learn new skills and tools to grow your capability and help the residents you serve. That’s why we are prototyping a new course.

Intro to Tactical Democracy: Design Doing for the Public Sector.

A 6 week semi-intensive workshop, composed of a 2 hours per week teaching and doing module (12 hours total) centered around you bringing your own real-life projects and problems to the course, so by the end of the course you have been able to make progress in finding more appropriate solutions for your projects. By using your own existing projects, we hope you can both learn and grow another way of solving problems, while at the same time reducing the backlog of KPI’s, OKR’s, and other acronyms. 

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Topics to be covered

  • Defining the problem in order to propel action, testing, learning, and iteration
  • Introduction to design research and how to engage with residents in an equitable, humane, and non-extractive manner
  • How to use synthesis as a way to find patterns, distill insights, create opportunity areas, and use qualitative research to point your team in a more appropriate direction
  • Introduction to ideation and concept creation
  • What’s a prototype and how to gain feedback in public 

How You Will Benefit

We all have problems to solve, and not enough time in the week to solve them. Enrolling in this course you will be introduced and practice a new(or familiar) way to help solve thorny, knotty problems. And at the end of the workshop you will have new skills AND have hopefully begin to solve some of your KPI’s, OKR’s, and other acronyms in service of your residents.

Who Should Attend

No matter your role in local government your day is about finding the most appropriate solutions. All are welcome and will find value whether your job description centers on policy, project management, delivery of local services, or are a civil or elected servant, this course will provide you the understanding of how to apply design methodologies on a daily basis.

Anyone who is curious in how to help their residents. This is probably a 101 to a 201-level course in human-centered design and design doing. Your team should absolutely attend so together you can help finish that really important project this year.

Course Schedule

Week 0: Prework

Problem and challenge definition, reading and understanding to prepare for the course, test collaboration tools

Week 1: Context Setting

Intro to design thinking, Problem Landscape Worksheet, Stakeholder & Needs Mapping, defining whom you are designing for, and why

Week 2: Design Research

 Intro to design research, recruiting, ethical practices, discussion guides, compensation, conducting design research

Week 3: Synthesis for Idea Generation

How to find patterns so you can generate Ideas, Brainstorm as a practice, connecting for prototyping

Week 4: Prototyping for feedback

Typologies of prototypes, what makes a good prototype, how to ethically gain feedback, tips for iteration

Week 5: Iterate

Revise pilot and prototype, identify what needs to be true for success, what stakeholders need to be engaged, and what capacity and competence needs to be deployed

Week 6: Wrap it up

Roadmapping, readouts, engaging stakeholders, engaging public, creating the flywheel

Office Hours

Every team has the opportunity for a 15 minute check-in slot on Wednesday or Friday morning during the course, and then a full hour check-in two (2) or more weeks after the conclusion of the course.



Online over Zoom for audio and screen sharing, generally in East Coast timezone friendly. We will be using Mural as an online collaborative space and Google Drive/Docs as an archive, all will be accessible by your web browser. There is no need to create additional accounts or download any programs to access these services. We will provide clear information and instructions prior to the start of the course.


Hi! My name is Randy Plemel and I spent 13 years at the design and innovation firm IDEO, honing and redeveloping the best-in-class design thinking and human-centered design tools and processes. I’ve worked and supported project teams in the public sector from helping the NYC Civic Engagement Commission create a direct-to-resident engagement festival, to helping the CFPB rethink their digital user experience, to supporting Bloomberg Philanthropies in cultivating city-based innovation in the U.S. and India, to AARP helping evolve their role in creating livable communities for all, to the City of Los Angeles and NYCHA to make cities better through design, and in helping Reimagine the Civic Commons with 8 city teams supported by the Knight Foundation, Kresge, and JPM.

My expertise is in creating great ways to engage with residents, and supporting civic practitioners grow their competency and capacity to serve their residents. 

I've taught earlier versions of this course at NYU Wagner and at Parsons School of Design, and was something that was part of basically every project at IDEO.


$1,100 per person due at signup for the 5 week intensive course.


We believe that learning and doing is better in a team. That's why we want to incentivise more of your fellow teammates to join so you can get more done. There is a 20% discount per person for group sign-up for the same project team, with a maximum group discount of 4 people per team. Here's the breakdown:

  • 2 people per team = $1,760 total
  • 3 people per team = $2,640 total
  • 4 people per team = $3,520 total



If you are ready to participate, please use the link below to sign-up in order to reserve your spot.


  1. Will I solve all my problems during this workshop?
    No - this is a starting point on your journey to helping find more correct solutions to challenges you and your residents face.
  2. What type of challenges should we bring to the workshop?
    For this course, please bring a targeted problem or opportunity which you are working on, which this course might help you and your team solve. This isn’t a great time to think about strategy (but we are developing that course, so please stay tuned), but to bring a project which has a clear need, a clear set of people and stakeholders which it affects, and a desired outcome.
  3. I want to enroll my colleagues in this course, can I?
    Yes! You and your colleagues are welcome to enroll together, and if you do we will discount the cost of attendance for each person of your team by 20%, with a maximum group discount of 4 slots, see the Group Discount section.
  4. Zoom sounds dreadful! Will this really be worth my time?
    I know, Zooming in front of a screen can be a drag. We’ve designed the work sessions together to be partly on-screen, and partly off screen so that you can focus on being your best.
  5. Do you have a refund policy?
    We sure do. If you cancel before the first class, we will refund your tuition no questions asked. If you need to reschedule to another session, we’d rather do that, but understand how things go. For week 1 and 2, if you need to end the class and get a refund, we will prorate the cost of tuition:

    Cancel and withdraw prior to the first week: full refund
    Cancel and withdraw during Week 1, you will receive a refund of $917 (if you purchased the course without discounts)
    Cancel and withdraw during Week 2, you will receive a refund of $733 (if you purchased the course without discounts)
    By the 3rd week, there will be no possible refunds available, but you will continue to have access to the workshop materials.
  6. Will I be able to share my course materials?
    All of our course materials are shared using a Creative Commons license so that you can share with others in your team, but per the license please attribute Expedition Works and do not make derivatives out of it.
  7. How confidential will the discussion be?
    We will use Chatham House rule: anyone who comes to a course meeting is free to use information from the discussion, but is not allowed to reveal who made any particular comment.
  8. How many people will attend?
    That’s a great question! We want to cap the class at 12-18 teams so that you can get hands-on instruction, and there’s enough space for us to have good conversations. This means there could be anywhere from 12-50 people on the zoom at any time, which is a large range but is within a comfortable range that we can facilitate healthy dialogue.

More Information

If you need more information, or want to talk this over, please feel free to email me.

Past Work

Here are examples of past work I directly led, which the tools you will learn were used to enable civic leaders to engage with their residents, and solve their project problems.



If you are ready to participate, please use the link below to sign-up in order to reserve your spot.

Hi. Expedition Works is a design consultancy (and a small-business!), where we design new services and businesses, new environments, new ways to engage with residents, and we conduct independent research.

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