Social impact and unintended consequences

Social impact and unintended consequences

Recently I’ve been giving a lot of thought to how we create true social impact in digitally enabled transformation – not just for individuals, families, services and communities but at a societal level too. I blogged about it not so long ago, and when FutureGov asked me to facilitate a group session at their Designing 21st Century Government event in Leeds, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to return to the theme. I was fortunate to share the conversation with a range of interesting minds from diverse backgrounds and multiple sectors, including a university, council, journalism, British Library, design consultancies, housing association, Government Digital Service and HMRC. We deliberated on the topic, shared experiences, asked questions and generated ideas – some of which I summarise below: Fairness – explicitly holding up fairness as an organising principle to all our work so that it is at the forefront of our thinking at all times Equality impact – using an approach similar to public sector equality impact assessments to bake in an assessment of impacts and consequences to our design process Telling stories – creating space within design processes to create narratives and tell stories of the best and worst possible impacts for the products and/or services we are developing – a creative means to anticipate possible futures – both good and bad Critical thinking – designing in critical thinking to our user research process by explicitly encouraging participants to imagine positive and negative impacts beyond the immediate use of a product of service Diverse teams – creating diverse teams who can bring multiple perspectives both in backgrounds and disciplinary expertise (including...