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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 the people who will ultimately use and deliver the service.

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 change management experience of the Governance International team, combined with the design skills of Francis Clarke. We support clients during the whole co-design process, from facilitating workshops through to making the business case for change and then actually making the change happen.

Benefits of co-design

  • Fresh ideas and thinking. Citizens and staff can provide professionals with fresh insights and innovative approaches for solving problems. 
  • 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 identify which services and activities people value and which services contribute less to outcomes. Testing and improving new service proposals with clients and front-line  staff helps to avoid the costly changes that can come when the redesigned service is found not to work well in practice. 



How co-design works in practice

Our team provides cutting-edge international case studies to inspire staff and citizens to come up with innovative solutions.   

The Esther approach to healthcare in Sweden: 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 redundancies 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

Governance International and Francis Clarke have developed a bespoke Co-Design Toolkit to support public managers, citizens and front-line staff to improve public services.


  • Customer journeys
  • Staff perceptions
  • Stakeholder mapping


  • Ideas generation (structured creativity)  
  • Playback of insights and prioritisation 


  • Rapid development and testing (prototyping)
  • Flexible community-based testing from concept to piloting 


  • Review findings with stakeholders
  • Make a business case for change


  • Work with leadership to make the case for change
  • Implementation and marketing service change

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

... or our Lead Associate on Service Design

Francis Clarke

Mobile: 07749 374339

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