‘Getting feedback from everybody’

Name: Dustin Hansen

Title: Streets Operations Manager

City: Sioux Falls, S.D.

Dustin Hansen didn’t know much about human-centered design last year when he joined a “Core Team” of leaders from across Sioux Falls city government. But he and a dozen colleagues from other departments picked up the problem-solving approach quickly, and began applying it to the question of how to improve transit service.

They interviewed bus riders, employers, and other stakeholders to define the problem, engaged residents in developing and prototyping ideas, and are now hatching a pilot for an “on-demand” transit service. “I’ve been with the city for 10 years now, and I’ve been on projects where we’re trying to come up with a solution and it seemed like we were always stuck in our silos,” Hansen said. “With this project, we brought in people who were not involved in transit — out-of-the-box thinkers. We were getting feedback from everybody.”

Hansen even asked designer Brianna Sylver, who coached the Core Team as part of an assignment with Bloomberg Philanthropies, to introduce human-centered design to his public works colleagues. And now they’re off and running, too. As the department assembles teams to work on projects like traffic calming, they’re looking outside the department for personnel and plan on engaging external partners and the public for input. “The biggest thing is the collaboration and reaching outside to get ideas,” Hansen said. “We usually go into these things thinking we know what the solution or the problem is, and oftentimes, we don’t.”

Pro Tip: “You never want to be just running the machine the way you’ve always been running it. There’s always improvements to be had, but you don’t know unless you ask some questions.”

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