Design Thinking within Canada's Policy on Service and Digital - Spring2 Innovation

Design Thinking within Canada’s Policy on Service and Digital

August 19, 2019


The Government of Canada recently released the Policy on Service and Digital. The intent of the policy is to provide guidelines on how Government of Canada organizations’ manage service delivery, information and data, information technology, and cybersecurity in the digital era’ with a concerted focus on the client, and workforce capacity building.

With Spring2’s expertise in design thinking and extensive experience in driving innovation across complex organizations, we love that the policy has many of the design thinking principals ingrained throughout. By leveraging design thinking principles, the Government of Canada will be able to fully realize the new policy on April 1, 2020 – specifically; understanding the end-users and clients, workforce capacity building, and supporting innovation and experimentation.


Below, we’ve broken out the guiding principles of the policy and the best practices for design thinking to show how design thinking methodology naturally aligns and supports the goals of the Policy on Service and Digital and the Government of Canada Digital Standards.

Design with Users / Client-centric service design and delivery

This is a key principle of design thinking – looking at the needs from the end-users perspective to fully understand their needs and pain points. To do this effectively, the users must be involved in a meaningful way to co-create solutions with them.

Iterate and improve frequently

Iteration is a key pillar of design thinking.  Since people’s expectations, technologies, policies, and financial situation change continuously, the iterative design process is a must to continuously improve to meet the needs of users.

Work in the open by default

Design thinking starts with engaging your end-clients early, to first understand them better and then to co-create with them. To do this effectively, everyone involved must be as open as possible – committed to sharing all non-sensitive data, policies and information – throughout the stages of design thinking. This practice inherently brings in aspects of change management,  building in supporters right from the start, because you are developing solutions with your end-clients.

Address security and privacy risks / Be good data stewards / Design ethical services

These standards are all indicative of the desire to create solutions from a client-centered perspective. If you are listening to your clients’ wants, needs, values and challenges these will be baked into the prototypes and solutions developed right from the start.

Build in accessibility from the start

When different perspectives/users are engaged from the start, and if you’re considering all identified personas from an end-client perspective, the accessibility component will be a natural outcome. Also, through our innovation work, we have found that when we collaborate with our friends at OpenConcept– who are experts in accessibility – it’s quite obvious that if you design for accessibility from the get-go the solutions are inherently more innovative.

Collaborate widely

This is another of the key pillars of design thinking. Collaborate as much as possible – from the start by understanding your end-users, to co-creating and developing ideas, to developing prototypes and testing. By openly collaborating and working towards delivering on a common goal, organizations and/or individuals can help deliver greater value to users.

Innovation and Experimentation

Design thinking is a roadmap to innovation – it shows you where you can innovate and how to begin. The methodology includes prototyping solutions (experiment) and iteration – so if you don’t get it right the first time, you look for alternatives and move on continuing to look for solutions until you find the “right” one. Design thinking drives ongoing innovation because it requires you to understand the end-clients and continuously identify better ways of meeting their needs.

What does the recently released Policy on Service and Digital mean for you?

If you are using design thinking appropriately, you are already proactively working on the requirements of the design stage set out in the new policy on service and digital. If you want to brush up on your skills, we offer both one-day training as well as design thinking certification programs. We also offer customized training where we work through any current challenges that you, or your team or department, are facing.

For executives and managers, we have a session designed especially for you where we discuss how innovation and experimentation can be supported by leaders in service, policy, and process development.

Check out our upcoming training courses 
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