It’s cliché, but it bears repeating: The world around us has changed dramatically; are the strategies for change that were established years ago still relevant? Now is the perfect time for state agencies to re-evaluate their transformational strategies and commit or recommit to human-centered design.
Use human-centered design to prioritize people’s experience
Human-centered design is an approach to addressing problems in services and processes that prioritizes the experience of the people who use it. For state agencies, this means designing processes to make resources easily accessible for all users and removing barriers. For instance, services should be accessible in many different ways so that users can interface with the agency the way they want to — not the way we think they should. And while regulations add layers of requirements to processes, there are ways to shield the user from these complexities.
The same philosophy is true for state agency employees — agencies must remove the barriers that prevent efficiency. That requires soliciting and incorporating the experience of the people who use the processes every day. Otherwise, what you think creates efficiency may only lead to greater frustration.
One day, after hearing dissatisfaction from my team about the application process, I sat with an employee and learned that she had to take 17 different steps to complete just one section of the application. Without an environment where she felt comfortable sharing her frustration and her perspective on how to improve the process, we would have never known about this roadblock and been able to make meaningful change.
This moment can be an inflection point for state agencies to implement better, more transformative ways to serve their constituents. Flush with federal funding, and now with a full grasp of managing through the pandemic, agencies are equipped to address the future head-on. To accomplish this, they must take the time to fully understand the problems they experience consider human centric solutions before taking steps to change them.