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Design thinking in social innovation and the public sector

Design Thinking (DT) is becoming a mantra in the different areas of innovation: including SI and public sector (Manzini and Rizzo, 2011; Deserti and Rizzo, 2015). Despite its large success DT is still applied in peripheral areas of public sector and SI where it is used as a methodology to conduct small scale experiments often supported by national and EU funds. This article focus on the interaction between DT, public sector innovation and SI from a twofold perspective: as an emergent trajectory of innovation in public sector; and as a framework on which to design processes of change in public organisations.The first line of research deals with the issue of how to produce new services in public sector SI inspired considering constraints like budget cut and the users’ expectations for high quality of delivery and interactions; the second one is putting attention on how to support capacity building in public sector in order to develop new competences to deal with innovation. The paper then reports a case conducted in the Municipality of Turin during which DT has been introduced as a design based learning framework to support employees to develop new competences by taking part in a service design project.

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