GNova has been using agile methods, prototypes, experiments, tests and user interviews in a combination of social sciences and design methodologies to build new responses to public challenges. Compared to other traditional methods, the learning generated by its use is extremely fast, making possible to discard ineffective proposals and strengthening those that are more effective for society.

The methodologies can be used by government teams at many stages of public policy to understand the needs of citizens and organizations.

In general, the methodologies used in the projects vary according to the object, keeping in common: problem identification and characterization, priorities and key tasks; creation of ideas that impact on these areas; suggestions of ways to promote high impact changes; prototype designing and testing of solutions; and validation or readjustment of solutions. The main methodologies adopted now by the laboratory were design thinking, ethnographic design, agile immersion: reality check in public policies and behavioral insights.


Design thinking in Innovation Projects

Approach taken from the field of design and adapted to the context of public administration as a way of dealing with so-called wicked problems and generating public value. The term presupposes “thinking as a designer,” and translates as a thinking model and a creative, questioning, experimental, collaborative, and human-centered practice encompassing steps such as immersion, analysis and synthesis, ideation, and prototyping.



Ethnographic Design

Ethnographic design is a name given to a stage of a design process in which we take a dive to understand in depth a reality that we want to transform from the perspective of a user or beneficiary of a public policy. To this end, we conduct field research using our ability to observe, interact and immerse each other's reality in order to gain insights that guide a transformation into a public policy. Ethnographic design can be used at different stages of the public policy cycle. Based on its practical experience on the subject, GNova has launched a guide to help public agents use ethnographic design in their professional performance.


Agile immersion: reality check in public policies

It is a methodology that quickly involves experts, users and actors interested in generating knowledge about the reality of a problem and creating solutions for services, management practices or public policies. It is appropriate when time is a critical variable and the involvement and validation with other actors is desired.

Its use is particularly useful because there may be a significant gap among policymakers conceptions, the servers who have to make it happen in practice, and the final users of the service. This approach is suitable for various phases of public policies cycle because it brings together the agents involved with the problem to generate ideas, test new management concepts and practices, and explore the implementation of solutions; to understand how an initiative is interpreted and translated into practice, how it is working, or how it could work better; and to identify whether employees understood the intentions of an initiative or whether the initiative creates the intended value for citizens. GNova has also released a practical guide aimed at guiding public servants in the use of this methodology.


Behavioral Insights

One approach that has gained prominence in the public policies innovation environment stems from the multidisciplinary field of behavioral economics or applied behavioral sciences. Its bottom line is the recognition of the inadequacy of the rational agent model to understand the decision-making process of real people. The approach criticizes the deductive model of traditional economics and goes on to look at how people make decisions. Their choices stem from limitations in their cognitive abilities, inconsistencies in their actions, and are strongly influenced by context. Many of these choices contradict what people themselves would consider in their best interest.

GNova has been using this innovative approach, exploring possibilities of its incorporation into the process of formulation, implementation and evaluation of public policies in Brazil from the application in some of its projects with interested partners in the theme. To this end, a prototype has been used to consider relevant behavioral elements for the improvement of public policies.

Similarly, Enap has been acting in promoting this public policy approach, structuring specific courses on behavioral insights applied to public policies and organizing seminars, workshops and other practical activities on the subject. Also, in this theme, we highlight the creation of a network that brings together relevant actors in the theme, with frequent communication and exchange of experiences, content and information.


Tools and methodological resources

Here you will find a toolkit to use in innovation projects that adopt the design thinking approach.