• With a main interest in the systems, situations, and services people find themselves in, my focus is to find out how we can design new ways of living and working together. Through topics like public space, education, policy making, and business innovation, design is a service that has to rediscover its position in society. A designer has to be a person with the ability to redefine the relations between situations, systems, objects, materials and services in our society. Therefor I responds to what I see, hear and feel, offers solutions, alternatives and sometimes provokes with a comment.
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    Bas Kools

    Nov, 2015

  • Practical Policy Making Europe

    A project to make grass roots policy creation a possibility by combining top down and bottom up experiences of all stakeholders involved. This document is a first step in the direction of realising a case study of practical policy making. A trial and error situation to develop the way we design our shared values and the world we live in together.


    This proposal is a introduction to a project with the working title ‘Practical Policy Making’. A first step to not only create more human centred and progressive policies but to change the underlying structure of how policies come to life. Policies and regulations at the moment are merely created by a small group of people mostly based on quantitative and technical research results and than being implemented. My question is how policies can reflect a locations way of living and grow the responsibility of its creators.

    Some essential points:

    • Policy created by involvement from, or rather created by, the people who have to apply and have to live the regulations.
    • To enable diversity and local development of regulation under the umbrella of the European Union.
    • Prototyping policies and how complex situations can be regulated on a human level, with the local inhabitants, politicians and businesses.
    • Building new policy’s form the ground up in collaboration, creating ownership, involvement and responsibility.
    • Cites and regions as laboratories for policies where a policy can be looked at of every level of engagement, its implications and can be worked to wards finding solutions.
    • Knowledge creation through collective action instead of that is the work of a selected group of outsiders.
    • A way to develop new democratic models that integrates how a place is governed with the place it self and all its aspects of diversity

    In the context of the European Commission

    The European Commission can take a very important and leading role in the development of this social innovation. There is a even a greater potential when we try to connect the identity of the European Union to it’s vision on social innovation. This relations opens up much bigger perspective on social and economic issues that try to answer to the question of how we are building our future society.

    There is a need to step away from the technical term of social innovation over to a new deeper meaning of human factors (awareness, public feelings and diversity) and soft qualities embedded in innovation.

    How do we enable social innovation to create these insights into new ways of measuring with both human and economic profit (Connecting social innovation with economic value)?

    The quality of diversity

    We want to innovate and trigger these new processes, a dialogue between policy makers, governmental agencies and analysts, businesses, artists and the people to develop a new set of practical tools to work, research and measure. Making social innovation the core for evolving our society in new directions, creating a livable Europe, a place for people to work and live together.

    E. g.: We need to create a practical approach, a policy making embedded in society! Learning-by-doing with the help of experts, creative and critical thinkers to build and test prototypes in real life scenario’s. The European Commission needs to enable both social innovation from within and start growing a new culture, a culture of multidisciplinary and multisectoral collaborations between the creative industries and policy making needs to get established to harvest new futures! Next to scaling up of social innovation and policies we need to develop new tools to measure soft values and qualities, finding the balance between diversity and generalisation in scaling up.

    Now what to do with these results? We need to create practical processes and projects to combine these policies with processes and tools from the field of design, art, design thinking and business design. To enable authorities and institutions to develop locally developed policies.

    A project proposal for practical policy making

    Enabling policy development to become a process where many parties are involved, a connection between politics, business and civil society to work together to create the world they live in. Under the working title, practical policy making, we want to initiate a learning by doing approach for local national and international governments supported by a network of practitioners around the learning and application of this approach.

    Social innovation at the core of regulation!

    This leads me to introducing the initiative “Practical Policy Making” which is focussing on policy making as a design process. How can we introduce a new approach to policy making, a learning by doing, involving all stakeholders present in a situation? This for me is a logical adaption of my experience in the field of design that has grown from the designing of objects to the designing of systems and is now leading me to leadership development and the designing of policy.

    Working together with local and European partners like the EUClid network, Local Intelligence, local authorities and other local and European organisations we can make this proposal a reality. Step by step thinking and working together about how a plan like this can grow into society and become an integral part of it. How will this benefit politicians, businesses and European developments. At this moment there is a need for politics and society to grow closer together. That new ideas about how places are organised are not made up by someone from an other place but how, from the start of a situation experts and inhabitants work together.

    Identity and ownership and responsibility of a place and its people is a very big topic. The Western European attitude is changing towards being defensive and selective, to exclude and to become a society with a singular vision. In my opinion it is the European union to blame for this behaviour. Changes in countries that are to big and to distant form the people. We now live in scale that is impossible to imagine by a regular inhabitant of a country or city. This crisis in identity is what is shaking Europe even more than the Financial crisis. This means the European union should work to build a empathic society, to create a way of working in respect of society. To give an example to local authorities on how a place can be its society and how they are there, not to govern, but to help, guide and support.


    If we really want social innovation we need to embed the innovation to grow from within society. Sustainability for future innovation using creativity and the knowledge present in existing situations.


    • Giving feel and body to the discussions around social innovation in the European Commission. With topics like: Active Civil Society, Sustainable Business and Transparent Politics the project Practical Policy Making has a direct practical relevance for the development of the EU as a prominent force of social innovation in the world.
    • With a goal oriented approach we deal with a problem that reflects institutional make-up and has the potential for bringing about long-term successes to start a public discussion on policy making based on practice, and initiate real life case-studies as experiments to discover new ways of connecting society to the forces that guide them.
    • To provide our society with an transparent and understandable insight into how the place that they live in is governed, from village to city, country and Europe.
    • To help to fill the gap that the lack of identity that is created by the European Union and national authorities.
    • Interaction between all stakeholders of the European society about their living condition and how to maintain or raise their quality of life.


    This project is an investigation, aiming to build the foundation for the development of a new way of governing in our European society. The right balance of expertise, creativity and ownership of a situation guided by interactive processes that bring people together, and let society recreate itself. With clear roles and goals, an understandable way of working for the public with outcomes that everyone can relate to and where everyone plays a role.


    This project is not about participation it is about active democratic engagement. As we discover its weaknesses democracy is undergoing a rough time. There can be an evolution of our way of living democracy, for it to be more participatory for to build a society by its people. This is a place where a new European model for democratic citizenships can be developed.


    There is a challenge, how can Europe be leader in innovating itself starting on the inside, on location creating and celebrating the richness of the diversity that Europe embraces making place for difference. A place where social innovation stands for economic stability and authenticity.

    Practical framework

    To develop “Practical Policy Making” I am searching for partners who are willing to help carry this project forward together. To create the right network of people to work towards a first small scale prototype situation around which we can develop and tune the further development and reach off practical policy making.

    In reality a perfect situation would be a small city or village in Europe where the local authorities are looking to find new local solutions tuned to the people and circumstances of the village. Example aspects of the context can be historic, geographic, young and old, families and individuals, physical workers and desk workers, public or private, etc… This in collaboration with an inspiring team of active politicians to start the conversation of how a plan like this can be implemented.

    This kind of project can only be shown by example! A grass roots initiative where top down and bottom up help each other in developing the place where they all live and work together. But to be able to do that we need to form a team of advocates with whom together we can complete the project proposal and make it into a format to which we can invite people to start working on.

    This document is a first step, a concept draft. The beginning of a new project that depends on a collaboration of experts to work together on, to form a team in spirit of the project its values. With this document I hope to trigger you to express your interest and to dedicate yourself to help making this unique project a reality. By practical means, through active involvement or conceptual and political support, together we can make a difference in how we and others design their world.

    Introduction to Local Intelligence and the role of the designer

    An introduction to how I with my background as a designer works on the development of restructuring policy making processes.

    My journey to an interest in policy making

    With a background in product design, the making of objects I developed a fascination for processes, the system that creates the object. From material to an object being used in daily life. These processes involved in making of objects refer to a complexity in relations of people, materials and techniques that we find in everything around us. The systems that we live in and the processes that we go through, an experience that can be designed.

    Many of the design projects I have created relate to this experience of processes and systems, to play with diverse approaches, make the system to disappear, to provoke, to improve or support. We feel the presence of these invisible structures around us but how do we understand them and relate to them?

    From a focus on the relation of people and objects my interest shifted to this relation applied to situations in the public realm where objects became tools to interact with complex situations and relations. Working together with local authorities, business and inhabitants in researches towards innovating the life in that location. Examples are a research towards the meaning of healthy living and new ways to create awareness about the relation between the different aspects of health the private and public spaces of a small city in Hungary. An other example is the development of a public square in collaboration with the public authorities introducing business insights to the organisational structure of the authorities itself to support the public space with an engaging and sustainable a approach in Kampen, a city in The Netherlands. Or the development of the scenario generator, a role playing game for policy makers for the province of Overijssel in the Netherlands where credibility is measured from the difference between personal and work related values.

    The living, working, travelling and spending time in the public realm as a topic in proactive and research grew an interest to the regulations of the processes that are taking place in these spaces. Implementation and investigation in practical situations and in research leading to the rethinking of the thinking about the future. How is it that we are living the way we live today, can we become more aware of the way we live and the complexity our lifestyle demands? Questioning is the answer to the question. With my fascination to how people live in the systems around us I initiated a research project called the future of Utopia I started to work on a publication to how Western Europeans work towards the future, what function does idealism have today and in what way is it present in our society. During this research the line of politics, design started to become one.

    The designers of our world are the policy makers. My question, how can I create a hybrid of design and policy making taking design tools, my experience and way of working to connect these two worlds and let them learn form each other.

    The changing role of the designer

    In the last 150 years designers have helped scaling up the systems of this world. Enabling globalisation, connection of people and systems resulting in cross cultural chains of production to develop a rising standard in living. These changes in scale have helped people to grow in knowledge and ability, to create a world of its own that has somehow lost the connection to its foundation, the connection to its public needs to be rebuild. Differently said, the people of this world are working to keep this incredible and magnificent machine running. Since some time now a shift is taking place. The notion that we, with in particular designers, should focus on scaling down the systems that are created. We have learned immensely, and we need to keep learning to create a more clever society that works together to create new futures, a new potential with new values and ideals.

    Designers traditionally are educated as makers and doers, to think about the systems for making, enabling them to create a new experience, an other perspective. To design new ways of living and working together. Policy is the next step in evolution for designers to take part in, policy is where the real designing of how life in this world takes place.

    What makes it interesting to search for this combination of design and policy making is the sensibility designers and artists have for the world around us. Working from a human scale, to create processes that are made to fit situations, investigating and learning and working together with business, politics and the people themselves. It is empathy that drives them, the relation to others, with yourself to measure the values to work around. Their role is creative director of the development of systems. Taking charge to build the process and the tools specific for the situation. They are communicators, translators, inventors and adaptors, and makers, they have opportunity and the responsibility to make change and to involve others in doing so.

    Local Intelligence

    Working towards this new perspective I started the initiative Local intelligence, a strategic innovation laboratory for designing new ways of living together. We share a way of working based on our belief in working with local intelligence. Innovation based on a commitment to engage and connect. For our clients, contributors and network we create access into strategies and experiences. We enable local laboratories to generate new futures by practice through experiencing. We need to ask ourselves how to create new values of working together and transforming these values also into economic value, to be come part of the systems of this world.

    Local is about creating the connections between you, your street, your community, your organisation, your city, your country, our Europe… It’s about being part of something bigger and understanding the relations between the varieties of localities in the virtual and the real world. The most important thing is to be present with each other in your locality, together we create.

    We experience a dissection of global markets and businesses. Uncertainties, complexities and ambiguities are demanding new ways of working. We believe in new opportunities towards a distributed openness, networked thinking, collaborative work and the Will-Do attitude for local innovative and market challenging educational & business concepts. We work as a local laboratory for your business, a place where we design new kinds of breeds, co-create new understandings towards the hybridization of design and business.

    At every level of a company, organisation, community or authority, from leaders to employees and from partners to clients and customers we see a collective knowledge of experts. A practical understanding of the issues at hand by the people involved.

    The key is to use this knowledge and share experiences through all different levels. This transparency is about daring to be aware and take responsibility towards everyone involved. To stand for who you are and what you do. Working together is the key to innovation. Your locality becomes a creative force. Locality is based around physical and emotional connections between people and can be found in many different scales. It has to do with your identity, who you are, where you are and what you do.

    We work as a laboratory for strategic innovation and are working with business, policy, educational and individual clients across a variety of fields. Together we co-create new transparent ways of working, new profits and ways to rethink businesses and relations to society. Our platform and network are connecting tools to get a practical input on social innovation perspectives and debate. What does it mean, what can it do and how can we make a real impact for change?

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