Better Scrutiny by Design

I have developed this framework to help improve the process of scrutiny. It’s been produced with local government in mind but can be applied in any public body that includes scrutiny within its governance arrangements.

It takes the well established Stanford d-School design thinking process and applies it to scrutiny. While many of of the features of design thinking will feel familiar to scrutiny practitioners, many of the tools and techniques will be new. The emphasis on gaining a user perspective and on testing and adapting possible solutions also help to ensure scrutiny is more effective.

Better Scrutiny by Design is a 5 stage process:

1. Empathise

The first step is to really understand things from the citizen or service user perspective before doing anything else. This is a process of discovery to generate new insights.

2. Define

Otherwise known as scoping in the scrutiny world, this is the stage where insights gathered from the first stage are used to help scrutineers focus in on the area that they can have the greatest impact.

3. Investigate

Whether holding decision makers to account, undertaking in depth inquiries or running quick fire activities; asking the right questions is at the heart of how scrutiny adds value. In design thinking this is the stage where ideas are generated.

4. Recommend

Proposals for how things could be better are the products of the scrutiny process — the aim of this stage is to draft recommendations and to user test them with the people who will be affected. In design thinking this is known as the prototype stage where one solution is settled on.

5. Review

In design thinking this is the test stage where products are released into the real world and refined as people start to use them. In scrutiny terms this is the follow up stage. Once again, the people affected by the agreed recommendations are invited to help assess what the impact has been and suggest improvements.

Drop me a line on my contacts page if you would like to find out more about Better Scrutiny by Design and how to apply it.