Christian Bason has been head of MindLab, a cross-governmental innovation unit run by a range of national ministries and a city government based in Copenhagen, Denmark, since 2007 and in November, will begin his role as CEO of the Danish Design Centre. Prior to joining MindLab, he led the public organization and management practice of Ramboll, an international consultancy. Bason is passionate about transforming the public sector’s ability to better meet the needs of citizens and society. He has presented to and advised a wide range of governments around the world and is a member of a number of advisory boards in Denmark and abroad. Most recently, he was chair of the European Commission’s high-level expert group on public sector innovation.
Bason is a regular columnist and blogger and has authored five books on leadership, innovation and change in the public sector, including Leading Public Sector Innovation: Co-creating for a Better Society (2010) and Design for Policy (forthcoming in 2014). He holds an M.Sc. in political science from Aarhus University and is currently a Ph.D. fellow at the Copenhagen Business School, where he is writing his thesis on public managers as designers.
An interview with Christian Bason
How can designers improve their communities?
The ultimate roles for designers are as integrators. They can work with leaders and communities to give abstract strategies shape and synthesize knowledge, materials and technologies into forms that are humanly meaningful and enable desired change.
What advice would you give to designers interested in making change?
First of all, designers should take care and effort to get to know (with reasonable depth) the specific field in which he or she wants to create that change. Misunderstanding the business, organization or policy is one of the main pitfalls for designers.
Secondly, most (if not all) designers should see themselves more as orchestrators of the co-design process, rather than as the lone heroic designer. This means that they need significant organizational and social skills to enable them to enlist and lead users, stakeholders and clients through collaboration, while drawing on their professional design practices such as visualizing, sketching and prototyping.
What is the future of design’s role in government and society?
Given the rising complexity and turbulence of our contemporary world, design will be more needed than ever. The only question is whether it will be educated design professionals who capture the strategic design roles of the future, or if it will be other professions who take the lead, ultimately making designers more peripheral.
Read more about what role Bason predicts designers will have in the future in our series on “Defining the Studio of 2015.”
Learn more about Bason’s work:
Design for Policy, forthcoming