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Office of Personnel Management Summer Design School 2017

AUGUST 3, 2017--Last week, OR&R representative Kristen Faiferlick attended Summer Design School 2017, a week long training in Human Centered Design (HCD) that explored new ways to understand and apply HCD in government.

The training was hosted by The Lab at the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), which offers an array of training opportunities for government employees and contractors. This training was unique among OPM offerings in that it encouraged participants to learn by experimentation and exploration in order to find the most meaningful path to a solution.

Prior to the training, participants were asked to brainstorm challenges or problems faced by their offices. Over the course of the week, participants explored these and other challenges through different lenses, learning how to apply HCD in their work. Participants tackled these challenges collaboratively with other government workers, including members from the Department of Veteran Affairs, the Navy, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the EPA, the General Services Administration, the Department of Justice, the Peace Corps, the National Archives, and more.

The training covered topics such as problem-framing, qualitative research and ethnography, behavioral economics, information architecture, systems thinking, and storytelling. Some highlights of the training included touring design studios in the DC area, learning from experts at design consultancies, and practicing skills in hands-on settings, like interviewing tourists about their experience in DC.

The Lab expects to make Summer Design School an annual offering.

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A poster with marker notes and stickers.
A series of challenges from various government offices, ranging from abstract and conceptual to small and technical. Image credit: NOAA..