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Created by the Public Governance Directorate

This website was created by the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI), part of the OECD Public Governance Directorate (GOV).

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Improve, create, or redesign something

We may know what the problem is, what is at stake, and an understanding of what needs to be changed but lack a way to move ahead with the change. Some approaches and methodologies work better for situations in which we know that something needs improving or redesigning.

Scale matters. Improving an individual interaction between people is more straightforward than improving the entire organisation or system in which that interaction happens. Based on the way that interactions, services, operations, policies, and outcomes are linked can help determine the best way to introduce experiments, solutions, and policies later. For first making sense of the scale and context of the improvement, consider resources that focus on approach planning or tools developed in the Strategic Design, Systems Thinking, or Organisational Design disciplines and practices.

Much government work relates to service delivery, so Service Design toolkits may be particularly helpful. Product design toolkits may also be helpful, but beware. Many product design toolkits are focused on creating commercial products and while the methods are applicable in governments, many of the methods will lead to a products (such as an app) as the answer, when the situation might call for something entirely different.

If you have a good understanding of the problem, consider toolkits that focus on problem solving tasks. If you are not yet sure which problem you are solving, see toolkits that focus on approach planning or contextualisation of a situation.

Depending on which phase of problem-solving you are in, related toolkits may apply. See toolkits that cover:

Do you need help?

How well-versed are you with problem solving tools and methods? Do you have experience with applying these approaches in practise? If not, then the language and complexity of the working methods can be daunting. Find help and connect to someone who has practical experience in addressing public sector problems. But be aware so that you do not get sucked into applying their favourite method.

Learn about building skills and capacity for problem solving

Find OPSI network members with problem-solving method expertise

Reach out to OPSI for guidance with problem solving

Request a webinar on this topic – top-requested topics will be prioritised

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See how other governments are doing this work

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