Inside

Downing Street Design Summit

Executive Education Case Study

‘Thanks so much to the RCA team for all your hard work, energy and creativity in pulling together such a fantastic Design Summit at Downing Street. Senior civil servants from across Whitehall agreed that it was an incredibly productive day, which will help support more effective policy making in the months and years ahead. 

This really is the beginning of a profoundly important evolution in the way that policy is developed and implemented, and we really appreciate everything you’re doing to make this change happen.’

– Rohan Silva, Senior Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister (2010–13)


In 2012, the RCA was invited by the Prime Minister’s senior technology adviser to deliver a summit at 10 Downing Street, designed to help senior policy advisers and high-flying civil servants from across Whitehall discover new ways to make government services better. 

The day-long summit was convened by Francis Maude, then Minister for the Cabinet Office, and was geared towards introducing design thinking into government and demonstrating how it could be used to reshape the civil service from a user point of view. We invited Tim Brown, IDEO chief executive and RCA alumnus, to deliver the keynote address, alongside presentations from Professor Jeremy Myerson (Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design), Dr Nick de Leon (Service Design) and Professor Anthony Dunne (Design Interactions). 

RCA research associates and IDEO designers ran team-based workshops for 50 senior civil servants, exploring service design principles, visualisation tools and research methods. The summit was officially endorsed by the then Cabinet secretary Jeremy Heywood, head of the civil service Bob Kerslake and Mike Bracken, the Cabinet Office’s executive director of digital, who all sat on a judging panel, evaluating project proposals. Go-ahead was given to winning teams to initiate pathfinder projects.

Downing Street Design Summit
Downing Street Design Summit