A Design-Driven Approach to Launching and Driving Missions
Missions are defined goals for a specific project or area of work that is bold, inspirational, and relevant to the wider society. They are defined to create an impact, our current ways of working and acting haven’t been able to achieve before. Missions are clearly framed – targeted, measurable and time-bound.
But what really sets them apart from any other goal an organization or business might define, is that they can be a powerful frame for:
- Achieving significant societal goals
- Mobilizing resources
- Linking activities across different disciplines, research types, and innovation
- Driving systemic change
- Making it easier for citizens to understand the value of research and innovation.
For years, we have used our design mindset, tools, and methods to transform systems. Now, we link these experiences within the framework of missions.
What we have is a running prototype. It’s a product forever in beta as we learn and share as much as we can from international relationships with organizations such as OECD and IIPP. We also share our own experience of running missions within the green, social and digital sectors, as well as our continuous development of practical tools and methods.
Why missions and design are the perfect match
Missions provide better answers to complex and often systemic challenges, and design is perfect for tackling those types of problems. With both missions and design, the relationship between a problem and solution is that we see the shape of where we are going without knowing exactly how to get there. The thinking, methods, tools, and skills of design allow us to make missions work.
Design-driven methods challenge our assumptions, encourage empathy and create the space to experiment. They also allow us to ‘rehearse the preferred future’ through prototypes. Designers can apply a holistic perspective and co-create new solutions across disciplines and sectors with users. Their visual skills help them make the complex tangible and easy to understand.
Missions can therefore be seen as a design exercise. They won’t emerge by themselves – they need to be crafted.
There is no one way to do missions. Their starting point, focus, and scope depend on the context of each challenge. For example, some missions are defined by the government with a strong political mandate and a clear sense of direction, but lacking the capacity or ecosystem needed to deliver results. Others are brought together in broad partnerships, where the ecosystem and participants might be clearly defined, but the scope and direction of the challenge are more unclear.
For missions to have an impact, we need to consider three important elements – setting direction, mobilizing ecosystems, and building capacity. This playbook describes how design can help you operationalize and maintain missions that have lasting and sustainable impact.
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