Designing Flow States in Public Utilities
PUB is a statutory board under the Ministry of Environment and Water Resources. As Singapore’s national water agency, PUB plans, manages and safeguards Singapore’s water resources. PUB’s operational departments receive development control submissions from Qualified Persons (QPs), which include engineers and architects,. PUB needed to design new user-centric processes that will help these operational departments better engage with these QPs, and was keen to work with experts well-versed in both design and business management to design new engagement processes.
PUB was keen to use this advisory project as a platform for building design thinking capabilities among its participating staff, and appointed Eden Strategy Institute as its consulting partner to identify the root problems among the current operational processes of the participating departments, while assisting the team to generate relevant insights and workable ideas that can be rapidly prototyped and tested with QPs for their engagement and feedback.
Eden first interviewed individual participants to map the current workflows and developed hypotheses of underlying challenges faced by each department. This allowed the team to scope the engagement, assemble client teams comprising key stakeholders, and design a series of workshops that would systematically lead to the development and acceptance of relevant solutions to the defined challenges.
These workshops included training sessions where participants learnt the fundamentals of Design Thinking, starting with experiential exercises to align everyone with the various roles of the PUB officer against common archetypes of external customer segments that they needed to interface with. Participants then learnt research skills such as ethnography, interviewing techniques, brainstorming, analysis, and problem-solving frameworks. Participants practised their creativity with various exercises, designing actual artefacts for each other, and were brought to other industries to expose their mental models to other approaches towards process, product, and customer innovation. To define the right problem statements, participants viewed focus group discussions that Eden conducted, and practiced field observations and interviews with their stakeholders. With these toolkits and insights, the PUB teams systematically developed and prototyped solutions in a safe environment of trust, and tested and refined them iteratively with customers. All resulting team recommendations to PUB’s Chief Executive were approved, leading to an organisational transformation that will help PUB better meet the needs of its stakeholders.
“PUB embarked on a cross-departmental Design Thinking initiative in 2013. We wanted a consulting partner who could improve our customer engagement processes, and is willing to work closely with us to impart the Design Thinking knowledge to our staff. We chose Eden Strategy Institute over other providers because they have a team of consultants from diverse backgrounds and the fit the profile that we are looking for:- knowledgeable, sincere and client-centric. The consultants were able to impart their DT knowledge to us in a fun and enjoyable way, and helped crystallise our issues and problems early so that we could focus our attention on the key problems areas. Even though they were not initially familiar with our operations, they worked hard to understand our processes and alert/remind us of blind spots that we were oblivious to.
Calvin and his team arranged for us to have our workshops at interesting offsite places such as a game cafe and a fast food restaurant, so that our staff are exposed to new ideas and possibilities during the IDEATE process. They also provided useful tips in the solutioning stage to help our team finetune our recommendations. We were able to complete our project and finalise our recommendations within 10 weeks of the project kickoff, and will implement the solutions within the next couple of months to benefit our stakeholders in term of: shorter processing time, greater transparency, and improved communication.
We enjoyed the process with Eden, and they were able to facilitate our DT sessions successfully. They were able to accommodate to our additional requirements (often at the last minute notice) and always do their best to deliver what we want. We worked more like colleagues/teammates rather than “consultants and clients”. We recommend Eden to other clients who might need sincere and diligent people to assist your team in DT.”
— Sio Wei Hurng, Senior Manager, Corporate Development Department, PUB