Kaboompics / Karolina

Re:CAP Recommends | Why City Governments Need Design

June 1, 2017

Re:CAP Recommends: “Why City Governments Need Design” by Natalie W. Nixon, PhD for Econsult Solutions

Who: Nixon is a hybrid thinker who’s consulting and research interests are at the intersections of creativity & strategy and business & design. In addition to serving as a lecturer at the Fels Institute, she is an Associate Professor and the Founding Director of The Strategic Design MBA program at Philadelphia University where she holds the G. Allen Mebane IV ’52 Chair for Design Thinkers.

What: The field of design extends further than what we typically think of—that is, the design of tangible objects. Nixon argues that city government could benefit from employing design strategies when facing the complex, multi-faceted problems of a city. Hiring those trained in the social sciences and design strategy rather than just those educated in law and public policy brings diversity of thought to the table when coming up with strategies to confront the challenges a city has. Design thinking could lead to innovative solutions for the urban challenges cities like Philadelphia face.  

Takeaway: Appointing a Deputy Mayor of Design could transform public sector service by making design thinking a central component of solution-making. The challenges urban settings face would benefit, as Nixon argues, from “empathic leadership, applying observation, contextual inquiry, interviews and the collection and dissemination of people’s stories to build strategy.” Taking an integrated approach to these challenges would link departments and come up with innovative, effective solutions that would benefit the city at large. Design can and should be at the crux of our city’s approaches to its challenges.

Contact Information

Fels Institute of Government
University of Pennsylvania
3814 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: (215) 898-2600
Fax: (215) 746-2829

felsinstitute@sas.upenn.edu