Public services should think more like technology giant Apple and make client needs the top priority, Sir Michael Bichard, told the National Children and Adult Services Conference in London.
The former permanent secretary of Department for Education and Employment and former chair of the Design Council told delegates that public services were in a “parlous state” long before the recent cuts but the failures could no longer be disguised.
The priority now should not be “delivering services at less cost but developing better services for less cost”.
Among the problems were the target culture that ignored the value of outcomes and the current health and education legislation that was about reforming structures rather than improving services for users.
“The problem is that an obsession with delivery means an obsession with inputs rather than outcomes,” he said.
Instead those responsible for services should be designing them around users, he said. To do this they should learn from Apple’s success with products like the iPad: “Successful design like Apple’s reflects how you and I think, act and work. Successful service design reflects how users think, act and work. However many of us don’t know how to design services, only structures.”
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