Designing, Adapting and Selecting Tools for Creative Engagement: A Generative Framework


  • Leon Cruickshank ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University, Lancaster
  • Roger Whitham ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University, Lancaster UK
  • Gayle Rice IRISS
  • Hayley Alter ImaginationLancaster, Lancaster University, Lancaster



tools, taxonomy, creative engagement, social services, scaffolding


Increasingly public sector practitioners are turning to design to help them do more with less. This often takes the form of designing tools or resources that are used by public sector workers in their everyday practice. This paper critically examines the practice of tool design with the aspiration to improve creative engagement (that is, novel interactions that result in the creation of new knowledge or understanding in the public sector). We assert that designers should not be attempting to define what is a 'right' or 'wrong' way to use an engagement tool, but instead seek to enable new interpretations and adaptations of tools so the creativity of practitioners is supported and amplified. We present a proposal for a framework that supports people in organising the multitude of creative engagement tools in a manner that is meaningful to them rather than imposing taxonomies form the outside, enabling them to fix their own meanings, significance and use of the tools they use. To explore this we present 2 use cases, one by IRISS (a leader in innovation in the social services in Scotland) and a second by Leapfrog (a research project led by Lancaster University looking to transform public sector engagement by design).
We believe this change in the terms of reference when thinking about the creation and use of tools has profound implications for designers working in the social services and wider pubic services sector.


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