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Co-design: Working with citizens and front-line staff for better services



What is service co-design? 

The idea is simple: nobody knows better how services can be improved than the people who use them and the front-line staff who provide them.

Co-design offers a structured approach to harnessing the best ideas from 'experts by experience' and 'experts by profession'.

The result: better and more cost-effective services which achieve citizen outcomes. 

An increasing number of councils and other public agencies already understand the benefits co-design has to offer.


How your service can benefit from co-design

Seeing the experience of public services from the point of view of front-line staff and citizens triggers innovation.  

The challenge is to make innovative ideas work in the challenging context of public services. This is where you will benefit from the unique co-production expertise of Governance International. We support clients during the whole co-design process, from facilitating workshops through to making the business case for change and then actually supporting the transformation process.

Benefits of co-design

  • Fresh ideas and thinking. The Governance International case studies enable 'experts by experience' and front-line staff to identify innovative solutions. Their hands-on experience is key to make innovations work for them. 
  • Support for difficult changes. Involving citizens and staff helps create a sense of collective ownership of the agreed solution. This is crucial if difficult changes to services are to be accepted by the community as fair.
  • Cost savings. Co-design helps to put into practice alternative service models, which improve wellbeing and reduce the need for cost intensive crisis management.



How co-design works in practice

We provide cutting-edge international case studies to inspire staff and citizens to come up with innovative solutions.   

The Esther approach to healthcare in Linköping: A business case for radical improvements

The Esther approach is a transformational model of person-centred health and social care from Sweden. Analysis of patients’ care journeys  to identify duplication and gaps in the current system resulted in the creation of a much more cost-effective system focussed on ‘patient value’. As a result of the system-wide redesign and new patient-focussed culture, the number of unnecessary days in hospital decreased from 1113 in 1999 to 62 in 2011.

How we can help to make co-design work for you

The Governance International Co-Design toolkit provides commissioners and service providers with methods and good practice case studies to design better public ervices and pathways to outcomes with ‘experts by experience’ and front-line staff.


  • International good practice cases
  • Perceptions of front-line staff and 'experts by experience'
  • Stakeholder mapping


  • Innovative ideas 
  • Pathways to better outcomes


  • Rapid testing of co-produced solutions (prototyping)
  • Monitoring outcomes and public governance


  • Review of outcomes
  • Business case for change


  • Work with multiple leaders to make the case for social innovation
  • Transformation strategies and action plans

Interested in what co-design can offer your service?

At a time when budget pressures require radical action, explore with us how you can co-design your services in ways that produce smart savings and meet the needs of users. 

Download our co-design briefing note (PDF).

You can contact the Chief Executive

Elke Loeffler

Phone: 0121 698 87 43

Governance International
Ground Floor, 1 Victoria Square
Birmingham B1 1BD
United Kingdom 

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