Design Thinking Can Help Homeland Security Counter Hydra-like Threats

Design Thinking Can Help Homeland Security Counter Hydra-like Threats

Design Thinking Can Help Homeland Security Counter Hydra-like Threats

In Greek mythology, a hydra is the nine-headed serpent slain by Hercules as one of his twelve labors: when any one of its heads is cut off, it is replaced by two others. This is a great way to characterize the ever-changing threat that the many agencies of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) face every day.

DHS agencies face hydra-like challenges – addressing one security risk often reveals another. From terrorism to natural disasters, homeland security risks are constantly changing and evolving. To address threats, strategies must be equally agile. The solutions must be able to comprehensively meet the needs of all stakeholders involved.

Design Thinking offers creative problem-solving methods that are uniquely suited to address homeland security objectives and counter these threats.

Design Thinking is a human-centered method of problem-solving and product design. In a human-centered approach, the impetus for all action begins with understanding the people you are trying to reach, and then designing solutions from their perspective. Empathy is vital to the Design Thinking process because it allows the designer to understand the needs of the end-user and design to those ends, rather than simply expanding on the status quo.

When applying Design Thinking methods to issues of homeland security, the first step to developing any solution is understanding the client and their goal as thoroughly as possible. For what challenge are they seeking a solution? What resources do they have? Are there unique constraints? What does the end vision look like to the client? Defining and understanding client needs is critical to success.

Homeland security is viewed as a singular large Government agency or department tasked with a broad security undertaking. However, the homeland security missions are unique because success relies on countless stakeholders. Communities, local governments, other Federal organizations, and even individuals are often just a few of the moving parts integral to a homeland security mission. Empathy for each of these stakeholders – with a key focus on the citizens and business in the United States – results in solution designs that complement the abilities of each part of the system.

Traditional consulting firms may enter the room saying “We have the solution. Here it is.” However, Arc Aspicio knows the first step in solving the problem is understanding what the problem means to each stakeholder involved. This Design Thinking method of problem solving produces the most usable, innovative, practical, and comprehensive solutions to address a wide variety of homeland security threats and challenges. Once one disaster is over, the Government must be ready for the next big event – and prevent it where possible.

Contributors

Kelsey Sweeney |

Kelsey is a Consulting Associate with Arc Aspicio. She holds a BA in International Relations from the College of William & Mary where she focused on international security and immigration/border studies. Kelsey has worked previously with the Department of the Navy as well as local elected government.

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