Design!publiC Panel Discussion 5: Planning and Policy for Innovation

18:26 Reto: I feel that there is a need for an international consensus and forum for innovation so that we can learn from each other.

18:19 Dilini: Most countries talk about GDP, but in Bhutan the premise of government is promote happiness (Gross National Happiness). What about making societies happier? Can we design and innovate to make people happier?

18:12 Subrahmanian: When talking about service, institution and technology, it is essential to take a systems of view. Also when you’re talking about collaboration it is important to think about getting not just the lawyer and the architect, but also the guy off the street who has much closer experience with the service you’re trying to redesign.

18:09 Ashwin: There is a State Innovation Council here in Karnataka that would be .. I feel a lack of certain things in my work: for example, I wish I had an in-house architect, or an in-house lawyer. We are all stuck for the bandwidth of what we’d like to accomplish. And that’s where collaboration becomes really important. Maybe we could somehow list all that we have and can do, and what we lack in what we want to do, and thereafter collaborate.

18:05 Harsh: The Planning Commission has now made a commitment to innovation in the approach paper to the next five-year plan.

18:02 Jamuna: It was very interesting for me to think of the work that we do, and the work that our partners do, from the point of view of design and innovation. I agree with many of the speakers here that we have to involve government – particularly local government – in our processes. It is important to know when to contest and when to come to a consensus. In future events, it would be valuable to focus more, and also to address the issue of scale — how to engage with other people to address the issue of scale.

17:59 Anant: Takeaways for the day include the fact that I am constantly amazed at the commitment and potential energy of this fascinating and diverse group of people. At the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, we are committed to innovation as a means to solve society’s long standing challenges, and I would like to express our support for the Design Public platform for taking this agenda forward. However, I would echo Harsh’s suggestion that we take this forward and commit to focusing more on specific services at the next Design Public.

17:57 Riku: Innovation has to be looked at really widely — there are so many different types of innovation, and all types of innovation have to be thought about when we talk about these things. One type of innovation usually require other types of innovation, and most innovations are actually combinations of different types of innovation.

17:55 Dilini: We have made contextual design with the participation of local authorities in different developing countries, like Bhutan (policy level intervention) and Sri Lanka (grassroots level).

17:53 Ashwin: Can we come up with a usability measure of the services and policies we design? Persistence and methodology is the only thing that can nudge this immovable wall that we’ve been talking about.

17:48 Harsh: It might have been more valuable to begin with defining who this public is that we’re talking – what is our target audience? There are so many different kinds of public, and it would have helped to specify who were are talking about. That is one small criticism. Also, can we talk also about the grand institutions and think about ways to innovate in our court systems, municipal corporations and more. Maybe one thought going forward is to think about an existing large institution or a scheme and see how we bring innovation to that. That could be a way to focus our next discussion.

17:45 Ashwin: Co-location is good; the reason we’re having this conversation is because we’re all here in one room. It’s not like we’re saying anything new or different that we haven’t said before. But we should also make this commitment – a tangible commitment – to meet, and also to have a space where we can all come together and which is open to those who are interested in Design Public.

17:42 Ashwin: While being aware that there is contestation to be confronted, it is nice to see that there are so many people who are interested in ideating and contributing to the solutions for the public good. If we expect events like this to accelerate public good, then we have to think about what each one of us can do to actually make that happen. IF we can each make such a commitment and then actually follow through, then it’s worth it to have such conferences. My hope is that spaces like this can increase the number of people who want such a change to come about. This would also make our commitments more accountable to a greater number of people. Some deliberateness is needed, without which we would not go to the next design public with any greater clarity.

17:40 Sudhir: Design Public II has looked beyond the government to see how all the different sectors of society can innovate for the public good.

So many conferences and conclaves end with good humor, bonhomie, new ideas and new directions for individuals, but no clear sense of direction for the group or community as a whole. This is largely because they represent a particular interest group or professional community whose self-interests are represented by the event, and those interested perdure, year after year, sponsors to consumers, speakers to audience.

We think Design Public is different because it has a mission to bring a knowledge of design and innovation capabilities to those who most need them, or who are best placed to bring them to bear on the Grand Challenges of our time. To that extent, we feel we must enjoy some forward motion, edition to edition.

In this final panel most of the speakers represent funding agencies, advisory and consulting firms, or strategic thinking and planning agencies. These are the individuals who must speak to the outcomes of the day and the ways in which their priorities are likely to be impacted by the conversations held at Design Public.

Members of this panel include Harsh Shrivastava, innovation consultant at the National Planning Commission, Anant Shah of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Jamuna Ramakrishna from the Hivos Foundation, Dilini Wijeweera of LIRNEasia, Gaurav Gupta of Dalberg, and Riku Mäkelä of FinNode. Sudhir Krishnaswamy from the Center for Law and Policy Research is the moderator.


  1. […] together to document and develop different kinds of innovations for the rural context. During the final session at Design Public II in Bangalore, he said, “I am constantly amazed at the commitment and […]

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