IDEO and the Obama Administration

MetropolisMag.com looks into a new wave of US government contracts for the California-based design and innovation firm IDEO:

Four different government entities have awarded contracts to IDEO in the past two years: the Social Security Administration has asked the firm to help figure out how to get more people applying for retirement benefits online. The General Services Administration (GSA) has asked it to look into ways to use smart-building dashboards to drive people to use less energy. The new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, set up by an act of Congress in response to the financial crisis, is talking to IDEO about shaping its services to meet public needs. And the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has asked the firm to do short-term research into attracting and recruiting top people to government positions and, subsequently, retaining them…

The idea that IDEO’s method is considered unscientific indicates something about its sudden and perhaps unexpected popularity in Washington. Amid pressure to reduce the cost and size of government, senior officials are looking to the private sector for guidance on how to do more with less. At the same time, the current administration’s bid to increase oversight of federal contractors suggests it is looking for alternatives to the methods of the ubiquitous Beltway Bandits—the contractors around Washington that secure a lion’s share of government work. IDEO’s “human-centered approach to innovation” embraces a less established method of problem solving than that of the techno-scientific cultures of the Beltway. Compared with the scientific method, design thinking is a disorderly process: designers make educated guesses, ask outside-the-box questions, and form hypotheses based on the understanding that new evidence will require (even invite) a rethink.

MetropolisMag.com – IDEO Takes on the Government

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1 Response to IDEO and the Obama Administration

  1. Aditya says:

    Wow, great find!

    And very helpful as regards our thinking on the India case…

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