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The Social Design Methods Menu

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The toolkit provides an approach and methods those looking for a new way to tackle social and policy issues by making services more valuable to customers and users, easier to use, with fewer resources wasted on implementing the right ideas in the wrong way (or on the wrong ideas entirely).
This approach involves spending time understanding people’s experiences and resources on their own terms, taking methodical steps to analyse and address these with their active participation, and pushing for more effective cross-team and cross-organisational working.
The included Social Design Methods Menu focuses on the difficult early phases when uncertainty is high. It provides background, modes, methods and "recipes" for different situations and contexts, but the publisher suggests that these be further adapted and configured based on your needs.
A basic understanding of service design is helpful for exploring this toolkit.

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About this resource


United Kingdom

Date Published



CC BY Attribution


PDF publication

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3 reviews for "The Social Design Methods Menu"

  1. Inès Lr says:

    The ‘Social Design Methods Menu’ toolkit summarises methods to address policy issues by adopting a human-centric approach. The document focuses on social design and emphasises the need to understand people’s experiences for policymakers to find efficient solutions. The paper focuses both on social and service design. Therefore, a basic understanding of these two concepts might be valuable for anyone willing to use this toolkit. The document is built around a design-thinking linear model articulated into four parts – exploring, making sense, proposing, and iterating. The paper provides interesting guidance for managers and policymakers as its 56-page length allows it to be quite comprehensive. The creators of the toolkit emphasise the need to both read and use the document. The latter might be more complicated to concretise considering the length of the document. In that sense, those looking to expand their knowledge of user-centric approaches to design might find the textual parts valuable whilst those looking for methods to use with their teams might prefer turning to the templates provided in the document.

  2. The Social Design Methods Menu is the perfect tool for managers who are looking to construct and challenge the early phase of their project, when uncertainty is at its highest. If you are looking for a tool that will guide you along all the steps of your project, you may want to look somewhere else. This Social Design Methods Menu provides methods within four modes (Exploring, Making sense, Proposing and Iterating) so that you adapt them to your current project’s state of development. A really practical tool because the designers have tried to put themselves in our shoes as much as they can, therefore you will surely find what you are looking for if you really want to understand all the issues and ideas around your project before prototyping anything.
    What I find interesting with the set of tools is that they mix up ideas from different fields. As someone coming from the social sciences field, I was afraid to be lost but they capture different concepts to serve as means of change. The methods can seem blurry only with the explanations but the templates make them understandable (each method is provided with a template). You do not need anything more than the description of the methods and a template for each person.

    Each organisation or each person has a unique perception of what they need to develop their project and in this case, the tools are really fluid and can help you at different steps. The designers even suggest to adapt them depending on your own specific objectives, which I did. Indeed, with my team we decided to follow the Recipe 1 – Service Critique so that we get a better understanding of issues and opportunities related to our project.
    Methods are totally do-able in real organisations, as I experienced it myself. We started with the method of storyboarding to better understand the issues behind our project, which is helping a social enterprise in Kumasi, Ghana. Along the processus, you can be sure that it will incentivize effective cross-team and cross-organisational working !

  3. This toolkit is a perfect introductory lesson to the application of design thinking to social services.
    Its target are all those who are interested in the team-based design of social policies. Yet, by providing very general design methods, it may apply also to any kind of team and research-based project.

    The very visual and schematic structure of the presentation makes it very easy to go straight to what the reader is looking for. However, also its introduction may be very insightful for all those who have never heard about design thinking.
    If, on the contrary, the user only needs design strategies, it is possible to jump straight into the “methods” slides, which provide a brief explanation of each design method plus a template for applying it in personalized contexts.
    The methods introduced include classics of design thinking -such as storyboarding, or blueprinting-, but also very creative and alternative social design techniques. Also, the toolkit offers interesting examples of how to effectively combine those methods.
    The Social Design Methods Menu always remains very general and does not specifically applies to the public sector. This may disappoint managers or practitioners looking for specific suggestions on how to design social policies. However, practitioners in need of methodology will find several useful recipes to apply to the design phase of policymaking in this toolkit.

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