Playing for change: Community justice innovation through design thinking prototypes

A/Prof Scott Beattie1, Prof Stephen Colbran1

1Cq University, Melbourne, Australia

In rapidly changing environments, community justice organisations often struggle to respond to new challenges, needing to implement new services, systems and procedures without the resources required for full stress-testing.   This paper argues that simulations, developed using design thinking methods, can play an important role in implementing change in a format that is accessible for community organisations.

Design thinking provides an accessible, human-centred approach to managing change in a through an approach than prioritises empathy and iterative development of innovation.    Design thinking places importance on the use of prototypes to test new systems and hypothetical simulations are one way to explore new practices and to stress-test procedures in a low-risk environment.  Using simulation design theory and ‘serious games’ exemplars this paper outlines the foundations of designing scenarios that create space of innovation.

Human-moderated simulations are an accessible and affordable method of prototyping that are amenable to feedback, rapid iteration and short cycles of development.   This accessibility also provides a nexus for engagement, within organisations and out to the community, in order to provide feedback into the design process and to crowd-source ideas and critical perspectives.

This paper will explore an example change scenario and provide guidance on how this may be adapted to a range of different community justice situations.  Design guidelines will allow participants to implement their own simulations and develop the use of this method in practice.


Associate Professor Scott Beattie has a career spanning both law and criminology and is presently building connections across these disciplines at CQ University.  He is strongly committed to community justice as a site of innovation and change in the field of criminal justice. Along with CQ University Law Dean Stephen Colbran he is working in the field of design thinking as a twenty first century skill for lawyers and justice professionals.

Scott is the head of program for the criminology degrees offered by CQ University, programs that place particular focus on community justice and design thinking methodology.

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