When we talk about “public policy,” we may imagine sets of plans and rules that affect everyone. Those, however, do not guarantee that people are at the heart of the policies. To develop a more people-centric approach, UK Policy Lab has created 11 cards representing methods to reimagine the ways policy is created. These cards intend to guide policymakers to see people outside their career circle and to center humans throughout policymaking process, from designing to implementing policy. They can help policymakers understand people and engage people to participate in policy design. Let’s see what these cards are.
In this method, policymakers employ knowledge about data, probability, and cognitive bias to predict an outcome of a policy. This scientific method enhances prediction into prescience, leading to more effective decision-making.
As the name indicates, this method uses games to replicate the policy design process. It creates a safe zone where stakeholders can participate in and discuss their objectives.
In 2019-2020, UK Policy Lab worked with Maritime Autonomous Regulation Lab (MARLab) in developing a serious game about the future of maritime regulations. The Policy Lab created a network map that identified stakeholders, and turned analyzed findings from interviews into “Evidence Discovery” cards. These cards contain each party’s concerns and opinions, and help policymakers quickly assess regulatory issues and possible areas to amend. MARLab said this process did create collaboration and discussion between parties.
Legislative Theatre is a stage where instead of a play, citizens act out their lives. Policymakers–the audience of this theatre–watch the performance to understand people’s experiences, and confer with them about policy. This method opens the discussion, unveils novel stories, and leads to new outcomes.
Legislative Theatre was first developed in Brazil during the 1970s as a means to inspire and promote social changes. Greater Manchester and Haringey Council in the UK have adopted the Legislative Theatre to design policy to end homelessness.
Engaging Through the Metaverse
The emerging Metaverse can provide more communications between the government and stakeholders.
This method involves a digital model of a system or object. Policymakers can monitor the model to observe activities, stimulate changes, and use new data from this experiment to inform decision making.
Apart from policymakers, private innovators also use this method. Formula One develops digital copies of their cars, then analyses the efficiency of the car model through computer processing. Digital twins allow F1 to gather data to develop the car’s performance without building actual parts.
Policymakers act as “citizens affected by policy”, imagining how policy and service ideas will be experienced in a real-world application. This method livens up policy design, prompting creativity and empathy.
This card invites policy makers to see beyond present time and humanity, to consider the upcoming generations, the surrounding environment, and “deep time”– a natural history time scale that began long before the Anthropocene, such as billions of years of the earth’s formation and evolution.
Decentralized Autonomous Organizations
Decentralized Autonomous Organizations operate in a non-hierarchical and non-centralised structure. Combined with cryptocurrency, the DAOs’ transaction must be approved by an organization’s members under transparent operation.
Art in Policy
Art is an integration of senses. Applying to policymaking, art will bring out the emotions of people affected by policy, and reveal visions for a better world.
Stephen Bennett, head of UK Policy Lab, made an art installation about the climate change crisis in 2021. At the end of the event, he asked guests to discuss information that they found most catching, and what climate-related policy implications are. Bennett noted that these conversations prove that art creates a space for exchanging ideas. It invites people to envision innovative ways to change society, encourage ideas and actions, and raise awareness of policy issues.
In the citizen assembly, representatives of various groups discuss a topic, and make policy recommendations as joint feedback.
Regenerative design means an approach to designing a built environment, system, and social structure that mimic and regenerates nature, creating more sustainable and adaptable governance.
Draw Your Own
Have you had any innovative experience in policymaking? Draw yours and share with us.
UK Policy Lab said that these methods may raise some questions. How will the Metaverse impact policy design? Do policymakers need to care for the future of the next generations? How can DAOs change the government funding for communities? We may not have answers yet, but that is the purpose of these experimental methods. These cards are meant to invite you to question: what could you do to change how policy is designed and developed?