You are the unsung servants of the community, and deserve the best. I'd love to help.
I have been lucky in working on a diverse set of projects in the public sector, and appreciate the unique needs of this space: the pressure local municipalities are under, the inflexibility of contracting and appropriations, the difficulty of engaging a broad range of residents, and the time scale needed to have deep impact in your community.
As a public servant I know that you have finite resources: timelines which are often directed by an election or budget cycle, a budget which is often constrained, and this is sometimes the first time your agency or business line has ventured into these waters.
There’s lots of different ways I can help: from advising in a periodic fashion, workshops to take you a step-level progress, a sprint to solve a small problem, or a project to solve bigger and more complex problems. I can customize an engagement to you and your organizations current context, needs, and budget. This is really part of the design process.
I’ve worked in this space for almost 20 years, and if/when the problem requires more than just my skills I can lean on collaborators from across the world to team up to solve your needs. I will be clear on the impact and team members - you won’t get fresh graduates with me disappearing. That’s just boring.
This looks like periodic (weekly or every few weeks) advising on specific topics, to help you and your team gain feedback, criticism, inspiration, or to get unstuck. We would agree on a certain number of touchpoints for a duration of time. This might look like a 1-1.5 hour long zoom every week of a quarter.
Workshops are great way to bring different groups across your org chart together to solve problems which hop the chart, or to go deeper on a problem with your division. I would facilitate a workshop over a certain number of days, designing the workshop with you, facilitating the work, and taking time afterward to synthesize learnings.
This is great for a focused problem which needs a bit more firepower. This might look like designing a UX flow for riding a train, or engaging your residents in a new way. This might be where I team up with collaborators to form a team of 2-3 people for 2-3 weeks. We would create clear deliverables which will be finished at the end of the sprint.
Let me lean on my experience working with city practitioners, state employees, and federal contracting officers to navigate the uncertainty which the design process offers. I’d love to help. Here’s a process which worked well in the past:
Let's have a conversation to better understand the following, to see if either my or my team’s skills match your needs. Let's discuss the following:
I’ll send you a brief memo with some options, highlighting what means and methods will achieve your business needs, what team I recommend, and what duration this might require. I’ll give you a budget range. If this makes sense, then we can go to step 3
We’ll get on the zoom for 60-90 minutes to workshop an approach, make sure that the deliverables fit your needs, and we can talk budget. If we think this will mutually work out, then we can start drafting a Statement of Work.
I’ll write up a statement of work outlining what deliverables will be provided to you, along with all required timings, etc. This is when we can get the lawyers involved.
These are the topics I would redesign if I had a magic wand to collaborate with different public sector agencies, the private sector, and most importantly the community of residents who live there. This is hard stuff. As a designer, finding ways to engage with your community (or others) while honoring, respecting, and understanding all the work done before your intervention, and what will happen after you leave, is a design problem in itself.
Engaging the community in both participatory design, but also channeling how to engage has been a particular area of study for me. Many of my recent project’s goals were to engage communities who don’t get a seat at the table. Our public sector-to-resident engagement model is broken. Not everyone can make time for a 5-7pm meeting at the local community center, and those who do are generally white and wealthy, and the full community isn’t always empowered.
How might we redesign engagement so that those who have limited time, attention, and means be part of the community dialog? How might we also redesign community feedback so that it informs experts and executives, but doesn’t paralyze a community to act? What is the “do no harm” rule for public engagement?
Policing in America has a very complex, and often troubled past, present, and if we don’t design a better system, a troubled future. Currently there is a large group of residents who are feeling the weight of policing on their community, the police feel under-siege, and municipalities are often stuck in neutral.
How might we redesign safety, so that the populace at large are safe, individuals and cohorts aren’t unfairly targeted, the police get the training they need, and municipalities can empower both communities and those who deliver life safety in new ways?
Contracts – those legally binding agreements which outline what governments are purchasing and what companies are providing – should be simple, right? They almost never are. When governments are purchasing cubic yards of concrete, or a bridge, maybe it’s simple. But how do you price innovation? While at IDEO we’ve tried many ways to give clarity to public contracting officers for a process with outcomes are hard to guess at the beginning. Being deliverable based works most of the time, but for more open-ended needs, it’s more complicated.
How might we create the clarity of a contract with the flexibility to iterate, better mirroring the design process? How do we give the public confidence that the money was well spent, and that there is value received. So it’s a two way street: clear value proposition, and more flexible contracting.
Neighborhoods are amazing: the best have clarity about who lives there, who it serves, and are open to those who live in the neighborhood and those who are visiting. Often neighborhoods are built by developers with a vision which isn’t aligned with the larger community. There is a difference between Rockefeller Center and Hudson Yards.
How might we create new tools for neighborhood building, which empowers those who don’t have deep wells of money? How do we empower developers to build what the community needs, not just what a finance sheet pencils out?
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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Expedition Works, LLC; New York.