What I learned design thinking in the eastern Himalayas...
One of the most inspiring things about being a ThinkPlace designer is the places your work can take you.
But even more than that, it's exciting to see our design methods make significant impact in parts of the world that might have little previous experience of them.
And so it was we found ourselves recently in the nation of Bhutan, nestled in the eastern Himalayas, helping transform the relatively-young parliament of one of the world’s oldest kingdoms into a digitally-capable institution (Bhutan only transitioned to parliamentary democracy in 2008).
ThinkPlace has worked in Bhutan before. In 2017 we worked with the Bhutanese Parliament, helping them to design an eParliament Strategy.
Recently we were back in the Bhutanese capital Thimphu (that's me in the glasses), beginning to implement parts of this strategy as the nation undertakes an ambitious digital transformation of its highest democratic institution - the Parliament. This initial stage of the project involved designing new processes and infrastructure so that the business of the parliament could become increasingly digitised – greatly reducing the use of paper, better engaging with citizens and improving the quality of informed parliamentary debate.
It’s not hard to see how this can be vitally important work for a parliament that – barely a decade old – is still developing and defining its role and culture.
To assist with this, we’ve been conducting interviews and focus group with parliamentary staff from both the National Council (upper house) and National Assembly (lower house). We’ve been trying to understand how we can help them achieve better outcomes for constituents while reducing paper use.
The focus has been on using digital technology to:
- enhance the capacity of parliament members in communicating with their constituents and in formulating policy.
- enhance the capacity of parliamentary secretariats in providing efficient and effective professional services to parliament members and committees.
- support parliamentarians by providing greater access to research, allowing them to evidence their views and ultimately engage in higher-quality parliamentary debates.