Design for Policy Reading List

On Friday March 8, 2019 Gordon Ross presented at Making it Real: Putting Policy into Practice a conference in Victoria, British Columbia. Below is an extended reading list—featuring some of our favourite Design for Policy materials—to accompany this presentation.

Some texts are introductory, while others are a lengthier, deeper dive into policy design, design theory, and the intersection of those two domains. We’ve included policy scholars writing about design (Howlett, Mukherjee, Lejano) as well as design scholars writing about policy (Kimbell, Bailey, Julier, Junginger) and public sector innovators with both an eye for design and a nose for policy (Basons, Christiansen, Bunt).

We hope this makes for a great appetizer and helps you continue to grow your policy practice, finding value in exploring design as part of that process.

If you’d like to keep the conversation going please send us an email, subscribe to our newsletter below, or give us a call. We’re always keen on having great discussions with smart people.

OpenRoad materials

Design for Policy: Bringing a Design Thinking Approach to TransLink’s Fare Review Process

Making Sense of Prototyping for Policy


Bason, Christian. 2014. Design for Policy. Surrey: Gower Publishing

Bason, Christian. 2017. Leading Public Design. Bristol: Policy Press.

Journal articles, essays, reports, and presentations

Bailey, Jocelyn, and Peter Lloyd. 2016. The Introduction of Design to Policymaking: Policy Lab and the UK Government. Proceedings of DRS 2016, Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference. Brighton. 27–30.

Bunt, Laura, and Jesper Christiansen. Innovation in Policy 2012. NESTA report.

Conliffe, Alex, and Cheryl Hsu, and Chad Story. 2018. Exploring Policy Innovation: Tools, Techniques, and approaches Brookfield Institute.

Howlett, Michael. 2014. From the ‘Old’ to the ‘New’ Policy Design: Design Thinking Beyond Markets and Collaborative Governance Policy Sciences (the Journal of the Society of Policy Scientists) 47: 187.

Howlett, Michael, and Ishani Mukherjee. 2014. Policy Design and Non-Design: Towards a Spectrum of Policy Formulation Types Politics and Governance (ISSN: 2183-2463) 2014, Volume 2, Issue 2, Pages 57-71.

Junginger, Sabine. 2013. Design and Innovation in the Public Sector: Matters of Design in Policy-Making and Policy Implementation. 10th European Academy of Design Conference – Crafting the Future.

Kimbell, Lucy. 2015. Applying Design Approaches to Policy Making: Discovering Policy Lab.

Kimbell, Lucy. 2016. Design in the Time of Policy Problems. Proceedings of DRS 2016, Design Research Society 50th Anniversary Conference. Brighton, UK, 27–30, June 2016.

Kimbell, Lucy, and Jocelyn Bailey. 2017. Prototyping and the New Spirit of Policy-Making. CoDesign, 13:3, 214-226.

Latour, Bruno. How to Think Like a State Lecture. November 2007.

Lejano, Raul. 2012. Postpostivism and the Policy Process. The Routledge Handbook of Public Policy. London: Routledge.

McGann, Michael, and Emma Blomkamp, Jenny M. Lewis. 2018. “The Rise of Public Sector Innovation labs: Experiments in Design Thinking for Policy” Policy Sciences 3 (51): 249–67.

Mintrom, Michael, and Joannah Luetjens. 2016. Design Thinking in Policymaking Processes: Opportunities and Challenges. Australian Journal of Public Administration, vol. 00, no. 0, pp. 1–12.

Mortati, Marzia, and Jesper Christiansen, and Stefano Maffei. Design Craft in Government. Proceedings of ServDes.2018, Service Design Proof of Concept Conference. Milan, Italy, 18-20 June 2018. 

Passera, S, and Reetta Maila, and Henna Kärkkäinen. When, How, Why Prototyping? A practical Framework for Service Development. In: Proceedings of XXIII ISPIM Conference, 18-20 , Barcelona, Spain, June 2012.

Steenhuisen, Bauke. Policy Design: Who, What, How Paper for the panel ‘Policy as design’ at the Interpretive Policy Analysis Conference, Tilburg, 2012.

Turnbull, Nick. 2018. Policy design: Its Enduring Appeal in a Complex World and How to Think it Differently Public Policy and Administration 2018, Vol. 33(4) 357–364.

UK Design Council. 2013. Design for Public Good.

UK Policy Lab. 2018. “Introduction to the UK Policy Lab.” Accessed Mar 6 2019.


Verena Kontschieder’s reading list from Stanford’s Legal Design Summit: Prototyping Policy (November 2018).


Emma Blomkamp’s co-design reading list (March 2019).

OpenRoad is now OXD.

After 23 successful years as OpenRoad Communications, we’ve made some changes. We’ve got a new name and new website, but we’re still the same people you know, focused on using research, strategy, design, and technology to make new experiences possible.

Learn more about the rebrand

Continue to the new website

Because of some of the advanced techonologies we're using, the site currently isn't ready to use in Internet Explorer.

We're working on improving that experience,but in the meantime if you're able to use Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Microsoft Edge, we encourage you to do so.