Cut your co-design teeth
in policy

Organisations can use the development of a single policy as a way of testing customer and management appetite and commitment to co-design. Policy development, when used as a vehicle for involvement, provides a significant opportunity to build and strengthen relationships with key stakeholder groups and policy research is a great place to start implementing codesign. The process of examining the evidence-base should be informed by the lived experience of people impacted by the policy – both customers and staff.

Times are changing

In the disability sector in the past, policy was developed through consultation between organisational representatives and researchers as well as some limited staff consultation. Into the future and in the consumer driven world emerging in human services, policy development could also involve direct support staff and people accessing services in a deliberative decision-making process like co-design. Listening to people and engaging with them about their on-ground experiences can help organisations gather valuable advice and insights about what works, what doesn’t and why. Cooperating and deciding together on the best way forwards would be the next step.

A co-design approach could also see contributors working collaboratively on the policy documentation. Any constraints or legal requirements can be explained and respected through a process that brings all stakeholders into the room. This approach would suit organisations seeking to demonstrate their commitment to true participatory service design. Organisations with a customer reference group or staff advisory group have ready-made panels to pilot a co-design approach, raise policy issues and open a conversation about participation in the policy development process.

This process can help manage staff and customer expectations on particular policy issues, support an organisation to ‘live’ their relevant sector’s service standards and over time lead to the creation of policy champions. It may also have benefits in so much as stakeholders start to better understand organisational thinking and practice and by being involved can better support organisational change on a case by case basis.  When done well, codesign of policy can also help organisations resolve challenging issues and articulate new approaches, procedures that contribute to operational shifts.

Help is at hand

There are tools and templates available that outline the policy process and the steps for co-design. By bringing those two processes together organisations can develop workable, plain English policy that is built on the collective knowledge and experience of a diverse range of content subject experts. If you’d like some links to useful tools, or need a hand facilitating this process please send an email to