In the last five years, nation digital services units (e.g. Government Digital Services in the U.K., and the U.S. Digital Services) and municipal tech and innovation units (e.g. Boston and Philadelphia's Offices of New Urban Mechanics) have emerged as key players in government reform in the U.S. and abroad. The scope and ambition of these efforts vary, but they all leverage methodologies already common to private sector entrepreneurship -- an intense focus on understanding user needs, rapid prototyping and iteration, and the use of modern technologies.
This Harvard Kennedy School field class gives students hands on experience to equip them with the tech and innovation skills to tackle real problems in government.
Separated into teams of five, students work closely with a government client to research an important user problem, develop user insights, rapidly design and build prototypes, user-test, and if relevant, develop a plan for the project to continue. Student teams also make actionable recommendations to their clients, based on what they have learned during the research and prototyping phases.
DPI-663 students learn user-centered design, prototyping, user-testing, and most importantly, how to hack bureaucracies with empathy to get stuff done.