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5.5 Things Every Designer Should Know About Hacking Bureaucracy with Marina Nitze — DT101 E106

Marina Nitze is co-author of the book Hack Your Bureaucracy and works at Layer Aleph, a crisis response firm that specializes in restoring complex software systems to service. Marina was the Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs under President Obama after serving as a Senior Advisor on technology in the Obama White House and as the first Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the U.S. Department of Education. Marina is also a fellow at New America’s New Practice Lab, where she works on improving America’s foster care system. Today, we discuss five and a half things every designer should know about hacking bureaucracy.

Portrait of Marina Nitze

Listen to Learn About

  • How bureaucracies work
  • Journey mapping
  • Stakeholder mapping
  • Interpersonal relationships and bureaucracies
  • Bureaucracy hacking

Our Guest

Marina Nitze, co-author of the new book Hack Your Bureaucracy, is currently a partner at Layer Aleph, a crisis response firm that specializes in restoring complex software systems to service. Marina is also a fellow at New America’s New Practice Lab, where she works on improving America’s foster care system through the Resource Family Working Group and Child Welfare Playbook. Marina was most recently the Chief Technology Officer of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs under President Obama, after serving as a Senior Advisor on technology in the Obama White House and as the first Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the U.S. Department of Education. She serves on the advisory boards of Foster America, Smartsheet, and Think of Us; created TaskTackler, the personal productivity app for Type-A personalities; and previously authored the book Business Efficiency for Dummies. She lives in Seattle, WA.

Show Highlights

[01:49] Marina gives a brief outline of her five and a half things about bureaucracy.
[02:35] Bureaucracy is everywhere.
[03:47] Starting to work within bureaucracies.
[04:18] The Five Whys concept.
[04:45] Marina uses the Paperwork Reduction Act as an example.
[06:27] The importance of understanding root causes.
[06:51] Know the source.
[07:38] Journey and process mapping can help us hack bureaucracy.
[08:38] Using journey maps with bureaucracies.
[09:07] One of Marina’s favorite journey mapping tactics.
[09:50] How Marina shortened a state’s foster application process by a month.
[12:37] What happens when you see for yourself the journey your users make.
[13:36] Considering the needs of employees when making bureaucratic changes.
[14:20] Employees are also stakeholders.
[16:32] The design challenges that stem from how employees identify themselves and the work they do.
[18:32] Bureaucracies are made up of people.
[19:23] Finding your allies in your organization.
[21:22] Marina talks about an example from her time working for the VA.
[23:28] Creating a stakeholder map to understand organizational relationships.
[25:50] Finding the historian of your organization.
[26:42] How bureaucracies make decisions, and using that to your advantage.
[29:45] Making sure people have the knowledge they need to make informed decisions.
[31:45] “Stabbing people in the chest” is a tactic from Hack Your Bureaucracy.
[32:44] The importance of relationships when working inside bureaucracies.
[34:34] Beware the obvious answer.
[37:24] Hack Your Bureaucracy is meant to give people hope when it comes to working within bureaucracies.
[39:13] Tackling big, complex problems, and having a North Star.

Links

Marina on Twitter
Marina on LinkedIn
Marina’s website
Marina on New America
Marina at the Federation of American Scientists
The Impact Summit 2020 – Closing Keynote from Marina
Unlocking Bureaucracy Through Smart Hacks With Marina Nitze
Hack Your Bureaucracy: Get Things Done No Matter What Your Role on Any Team, by Marina Nitze and Nick Sinai

Design Thinking 101 Episodes You Might Like

Teaching Yourself Design Thinking + Innovating in Government with Amy J. Wilson — DT101 E19
Designer’s Role in Healthcare & Public Health + Studio Thinking with Jess Roberts — DT101 E21
Trauma-informed Design + Social Work + Design Teams with Rachael Dietkus — DT101 E81

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