Design Better Mass Transit with Systems Thinking

We need ways of designing better transportation systems.

As U.S. cities grow more gridlocked and Millennials adopt mobility services like Uber out of desperation, transit becomes a crucial social good. Without the ability to easily move people and goods, cities become paralyzed. We need a way of designing better transportation systems.

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Marketers Create Systems Not Things For Improving The Social Good

create systems not things

Plenty of people, including public sector marketers, think design means making things look cool or trendy or pretty. However, looking good is only a by-product. Design is the thought and intention behind creating a product or service that succeeds in filling a need. To ensure success, true marketers create systems not things.

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Redesigning public and social services: Staple yourself to a citizen

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Government leaders should adopt the perspective of a citizen passing through the end-to-end experience of a particular process and seek to optimize the complete journey.

This quote from a recent McKinsey survey is simultaneously obvious and revolutionary. Of course government leaders should optimize the process of serving citizens. But most government processes seem so cumbersome and plodding that just a little customer service would be welcome, never mind the optimization.

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Designing better student loans using system thinking

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Students go into debt to pay for college. In the United States, the amount of student debt has surpassed $1.3 trillion, which puts it on par with auto loans. Americans like to think the student debt is an American phenomenon, but this article from the New York Times shows that students in other countries also borrow, and borrow almost as much.

Borrowing may not be American, but struggling to repay is.

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Three Ways to Design Better Retirement Accounts With Systems Thinking

Designing better retirement accounts

In a recent retirement study by Transamerica, respondents of all ages said that they would need to save at least $1 million to feel secure in retirement. If we all did that, we’d be a society of millionaires. There’s a big disconnect here, though, because the survey also shows people are nowhere near on track to save a million bucks with the IRA and 401k plans available today. Designing better retirement accounts is a strong first step towards financial security.

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The power of design: social service program design

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In her TED talk, “Social Services Are Broken: How We Can Fix Them,” Hilary Cottam displayed a chart mapping 20 years of social services interventions in the life of one family (screen shot shown above). Color-coded shapes along two timelines mark each encounter in which schools, police and social services interacted with the mother, sister or son in a family. The inset timeline shows the accelerating nature of interactions with the system, while the main timeline shows the 50+ incidents that occurred in a single year.

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