Prosperity Agenda Design Lab

The Prosperity Agenda Design Lab was held in November 2014 in Portland to generate ideas for moving people from poverty into good jobs, recognizing at the same time that a humane safety net is needed for those who cannot work.

The design lab approach challenges existing assumptions in an open process for designing new solutions.This differs from the typical approach to public policy issues that analyzes problems and solutions based on certain assumptions about how public services should be delivered. Analysis is important but by its nature it is not inventive. The design lab process starts with a “blank piece of paper”. 

The Prosperity Agenda Design Lab brought together “designers” who are 1) experts in poverty and job creation but are not currently working in the existing system, 2) people who are creative thinkers from a variety of disciplines (business, technology, gaming theory, artists, behavioral economists, etc.), and 3) people who are or have been in poverty. The Design Lab was a three-day facilitated process using the principles of system and design thinking. Volunteer facilitators skilled in techniques that stimulate creativity and lead people to innovative ideas will help guide the process. See bios of the designers and facilitators, the Design Lab Briefing Book, Part 1, and Briefing Book, Part 2, about poverty in the United States and Oregon, and Governor Kitzhaber’s charge to the designers.

The approach for this Design Lab focused on 1) building the bridge from a safety net to higher income stability for specific target groups of people in poverty and 2) looking at the system designs that will result in the best outcomes for each target group.

Criteria for choosing target groups may include: numbers of people who fall into the group, the degree to which the current system is meeting the needs of the target group, and the degree to which overcoming the barriers the group faces would enhance the overall service delivery system.  We ran parallel “target group labs” to focus on five target segments.

Stakeholder input before the Design Lab and feedback to the designs after the Design Lab are essential ingredients in the process.  A series of stakeholder input meetings were held around the state just prior to the Design Lab. Oregon Kitchen’s Table was used to receive feedback on the designs. (See more detail on the Stakeholder Forums.)


Our Work

Design Lab big ideas summary

Design Lab process slide presentation

Design Lab process videos (long) and (short).

Bios, Design Lab designers and facilitators.

Design Lab Briefing Book, Part 1, and Briefing Book, Part 2.

Written charge to the designers.

Photos of Design Lab participants at work.