• Introduction 
  • Sectors in Singapore wherein Design Thinking is implemented
  • Conclusion

Singapore is one of the rare countries in the world that leads by example. From the lack of natural resources to ever-changing market economy, the island nation has gone through many challenges. Despite this, Singapore has written its own playbook in almost every aspect of governance and kept on seeking a sustainable future for Singaporeans. This time, they have made changes in their hospitals and schools by embedding a Design Thinking approach as it saves lives, cuts costs, and boosts social welfare. Let us have a look on how Design Thinking was used by the Singapore government to reshape the city experience and improve the lives of citizens. 

Legal System 

When conjuring up an image of Design Thinking, the first thought that comes to the mind is Humans. Design Thinking helps organizations focus on the people for whom they are creating the product, which not only leads to exceptional business but also phenomenal products, services, and internal processes. The government of Singapore used a similar approach to give Family Justice Courts a face-lift. Considering how stressful situations arise at court, the authorities decided to rebuild the layout of the court, making it more child-friendly. 

With the help of a Design Thinking approach, they created counselling and mediation rooms, where in-house specialists were made available for consultations with the public. Whenever possible, there will also be an out-of-court settlement. Moreover, judges will redirect people to use these services, and if amicable solutions can be reached, there will not be a need to undergo court hearings. To make it less stressful for kids (as they are asked to come to court in some divorce cases), a colourful play corner with beautiful murals and a small library, was made that gave the court an upbeat vibe.

Hospitals 

Not only legal courts, but hospitals and clinics in Singapore are also using Design Thinking tools to make the life of their patients easier, ranging from simple chair designs to the planning of an entire ward. Khoo Teck Puat Hospital simplified service delivery for the senior citizens by placing all the geriatric-related specialist care on the fourth floor. Due to this, they do not have to go to different floors for appointments with multiple doctors. 

Clinics also have a come up with an Island Design concept, wherein a workstation for both doctors and nurses will be placed in the centre of the clinic. With this approach, they got: 

1) Extra free space that made the movement of patients a lot easier.

2) Allowed nurses to attend to patients without obstructions.

Some hospitals have even installed new chair designs, easing the access for the physically handicapped. They came up with sprung-up flip chairs—somewhere like what is seen in stadiums—that allows one to sit next to the patient while waiting in the queue. Before this, the attendant used to park the wheelchair at the allocated slot and sit separately. This change had a real impact and cut patient waiting time by 40%, just by rearranging the structure of services. The hospital also came up with the idea of making electronic queue and appointment systems to improve service efficiency and even re-organized the location of the consulting room, which made the communication between departments a lot easier. 

Housing 

Due to its Human-centric nature, Singapore has implemented Design Thinking in the housing scheme to promote racial integration. They came up with the policy of reserving a set percentage of homes to individuals from each race, which will in turn prevent social enclaves from forming based on race. 

Classrooms/School 

Many schools in Singapore are hosting workshops to nurture Design Thinking in kids and encourage creative solutions to global problems. It is also one of the broad directives in the Design 2025 Masterplan, which was released last year. They follow three steps: 

  • Address issues with empathy
  • Create and consider various options 
  • Pick a solution and execute it 

‘Thinkroom’, As Many Minds and Happiness Makers, have designed workshops for kids which introduce children to techniques such as self-directed inquiry and brainstorming with a team.

The National Design Centre, the headquarters of DesignSingapore Council, has hosted many programs for children, including a Junior Maker Programme, during which they ask children to work engaged in activities such as leather-crafting and making a Lightsaber, among others. 

Also Read: How Design Thinking Can Improve Education System?

Zoo

Since its formation (1971), Wildlife Reserves Singapore (responsible for operating four award-winning parks: Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, River Safari and Jurong Bird Park) is one of the primary sources of entertainment for the citizens of Singapore. With the help of Design Thinking, they came up with two new major projects: Rainforest KidzWorld and My Animal Buddy. They nurtured around 20 Design Thinking (DT) internal champions and trained 30-40 senior management and key personnel in Design Thinking. Creation of Rainforest KidzWorld, an outdoor play zone concept for the Singapore Zoo was also a part of the approach. However, the start high remains the concept of My Animal Buddy, an initiative wherein your animal friend does not live in your house, but in the zoo.

Conclusion

Apart from the Government, even the private firms in Singapore are using Design Thinking to work on their business strategies and grow their organizations by leaps and bounds. With this, I hope that you understand how Design thinking methodologies play a vital role in helping the government deliver valuable services. 

If you too are intrigued by the idea of Design Thinking, then apply now for Stanford Design Thinking: From Insights to Viability program, offered by Stanford Graduate School of Business Executive Education and delivered in collaboration with Great Learning. You can drop your queries in the comment box mentioned below. 

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