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Public Problem Solving Canvas

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The GovLab's Public Problem Solving Canvas is an online interactive canvas based on twenty questions to create and develop your public interest project. These twenty questions are designed to help you refine your understanding of the problem and those whom it affects; express your Big Idea; and turn that idea into an actionable strategy in the real world to the end of improving people's lives.

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Discipline or practice

Product Design

Strategic Design

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United States

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CC BY-SA Attribution-ShareAlike


Interactive canvas

Web-based resource

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2 reviews for "Public Problem Solving Canvas"

  1. Martina Powley says:

    The layout of the toolkit is ideal for people working in public policy who may be working remotely. The canvas layout is easy to see on one screen, but the different boxes allow you plenty of space to write down all of the relevant information like a giant white board. Except it is better than a whiteboard because the boxes with questions keep your information organized perfectly. One of the greatest advantages of this toolkit is the words in brackets under the questions; for example, “What is the problem?” “[need]” vs. “What are the causes of the problem?” “[causes]”. This is a really simple visual addition, but it makes it easy to separate ideas. This toolkit is also a valuable tool in policy design as it allows you to easily come back to critical information at different points in time during the design and implementation process.

  2. I used this toolkit while working on a case study with other students. We had to answer the following question : “How to make the UK drive on the right?”. It helped us to focus on the right problem, clearly define the issues at stake, and find a tailored solution to it.
    This visual toolkit can prevent people working on civic projects from rushing into policy or solution development too quickly, without thoroughly identifying the underlying issues. It allows a very complete analysis, addressing key elements such as clearly defining the problem we’re aiming to tackle, the interests, goals, stakeholders and their impacts…
    The 20 questions can be overwhelming at first but they are meant to be completed step by step : it shows that designing a solution to a problem is not a one-time process. The Canvas is accompanied by a very insightful article, that gives a clear picture of the purpose of each question. This avoids confusing or mixing up the questions.
    It is valuable in terms of policy design as it allows to design a better solution to the identified problem. Moreover, it can be used on any scale, and in the public as well as in the private sector.

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