In a conversation with... Christian Bason

For eight years, Christian Bason ran MindLab, the Danish government’s innovation agency. In an interview, the CEO of the Danish Design Centre tells us about his “opportunity to kick ass” as a public sector innovator, the power of design and human-centricity to transform government, and about storytelling as a way to bring meaning to people’s work.

Our favorite soundbites

“I’ve always been driven by these, sort of, bigger ideas, and also imagining different futures and working hard to achieve them.”

“When I was being recruited [to run MindLab], a director told me: “You know, this may not pay as much as you get paid in the private sector going forward, but this is your opportunity to kick ass.“

“The recognition that civil servants and systems and government had such an effect on people, even in an area as dry as tax compliance, was an eye opener.”

“We have designed the organizations, the institutions, and their products and services that we have today. And to the extent that we’ve designed some that are dysfunctional, bad for the planet, or for people, we can re-design them.”

“Some of our sectors, not least the public sector, might be ready for a new design.“

“Let’s take all the knowledge we have today, all the skills, all the technology, all the insights, all the learnings we have – our collective intelligence – and put that together and then build something better.”

“If you want to transform things, you have to transform organizations and how they work – and you have to activate the collective creativity, knowledge, skills, and motivation of people.”

“For me it’s not a question of the size of government, it’s more how government works that’s important.”

Further reading about and by Christian Bason

The Right Way to Lead Design Thinking, Harvard Business Review (2019): https://hbr.org/2019/03/the-right-way-to-lead-design-thinking

For more efficient government, don’t start with efficiency, Centre for Public Impact (2019): https://www.centreforpublicimpact.org/for-more-efficient-government-dont-start-with-efficiency-in-conversation-with-christian-bason/

How Denmark lost its MindLab: the inside story, apolitical (2018): https://apolitical.co/en/solution_article/how-denmark-lost-its-mindlab-the-inside-story

Welcome to MindLab – designer of delivery and innovation in Denmark, Centre for Public Impact (2015): https://www.centreforpublicimpact.org/welcome-to-mindlab/

Look to Government – Yes, Government – for New Social Innovations, Harvard Business Review (2014): https://hbr.org/2014/11/look-to-governmentyes-governmentfor-new-social-innovations

Design-Led Innovation in Government, Stanford Social Innovation Review (2013): https://ssir.org/articles/entry/design_led_innovation_in_government