Asking the Ultimate Awkward Question

Photo of spiral staircase, showing expanding and narrowing perspectives
Photo credit: “Perspective I” by sabl3t3k, licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0
How gov’t works: 1-Problem identification; 2-Agenda-setting; 3-Policy development; 4-Delivery/implementation; 5) Evaluation
Systems design (e.g. benefits programs), service design (e.g. emergency response benefit), product design (web form)
  • Systems design, usually the purview of public policy and research teams, is about the ecosystem of actions and inactions, policy instruments, institutions and environmental factors that surround a service. Systems design helps you understand the tradeoffs involved in each policy and funding decision that government makes: Who wins? Who loses? Who are included or excluded? What combination of policy and funding levers are needed?
  • Service design is usually what gets ascribed to program and operations areas, and is about maximizing the effectiveness of a government intervention by examining the most effective entry points and removing any pain points associated with that service.
  • Product design tends to be what is ascribed to IT and digital teams. It’s usually the entry point to the service online, all day, everyday.
Generative user research (what’s the real problem?); service design (what are the pain points?); usability (green vs blue?)



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Honey Dacanay

Honey Dacanay

Professionally awkward. Trying to make gov work better. Policy, data & talent @ESDC_GC. Digital gov @McMasterU. Alum @DigiAcademyCan. @ONDigital co-founder