Policy Design: Redesigning the Traditional Policy Cycle Towards Human-centredness


Studies show that citizens’ dissatisfaction with current policymaking is growing. This is partly due to the steady focus on problem-solving, which moves politics further away from citizens’ needs. Therefore, traditional methods can no longer address the increasing complexity of political-societal problems. To counteract this growing issue, Policy Design is introduced to enable policymakers to better deal with complex challenges, seeking to achieve more effective and human-centred policy outcomes. Policy Design refers to a creative way of addressing wicked problems by integrating designerly approaches and mindsets into policymaking. This implies an open-ended and iterative process, which focuses on human needs and adapting to continuously changing conditions. This paper critically questions the traditional Policy Cycle and its impact on policy outcomes. As a research method and in addition to scientific research, qualitative interviews with eleven international experts from diverse domains were conducted, reaching from the political to the design field. The research findings reveal three points of criticism: The first demonstrates policymaking as an isolated, linear, and top-down approach. The second identifies a critical gap between policy formulation and policy implementation and the third criticises the lack of active participation in the policymaking process. To respond to those criticism, a redesign of the traditional Policy Cycle is proposed, which combines a human-centred approach and the Double Diamond Design Process. More specifically, a participatory, cross-functional, and agile policymaking process is introduced, in order to develop policies based on people’s needs. In all, the paper clarifies the potential that design can unleash in policymaking.


Andrea Petz
Service Design, Customer Experience, fraenk – eine Marke der Telekom Deutschland GmbH , Germany

Breidenich Christof
Student, Head of Study Programme Design, Macromedia University of Applied Scienes, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany


Presentation Type

Paper Presentation in a Themed Session


Design in Society


Policymaking, Policy Cycle, Policy Design, Human-Centred-Design, Design Thinking

Digital Media


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