Optimising Lennik’s municipal service model through user-centred design

What was the problem?

Lennik, known for its rich history and vast educational landscape, is the beating heart of the Pajottenland region. With almost 9000 inhabitants and a favourable location, Lennik is a trade and service hotspot in the region. Lennik’s municipal services were known for their strong digital focus, but over time both the digital and personal service model had become somewhat outdated.

The following provides the municipality of Lennik with huge opportunities:

  1. The future expansion of the town hall with the old fire station building becoming available.
  2. The willingness to rethink the town’s service offering from a service flow and infrastructural point of view for both the town’s employees and the citizens of Lennik.
  3. The anticipated renewal of the current website and e-portal.
  4. The (mandatory) integration of the Sociaal Huis (centre for social services) and municipal services.

Major requirements throughout this project were the ability to combine short-term and long-term goals and ensuring that all outcomes would fully be aligned and mutually supportive.

What did they do?

The initial plan of the municipality to subcontract different external parties (e.g. an architect, web designer, consultant, etc.) to execute the desired changes was challenged early on in the process by Design Flanders. Why not bring a Service Design team on board to help create one integral vision, strategy and action plan that would affect all the different channels (processes, infrastructure, digital, people)? Indeed, this would support Lennik in briefing different contractors later on, so all outcomes would be aligned and reinforce each other.

Design agency Made applied multiple design research methodologies throughout the project: observations of the current service design offering, interviews with employees, citizen consultations, visits to learn from best practices, role-play and website audits. All pivotal findings were shared with the team to support the definition of the project needs and to guide the design phase of the project.

In this design phase, 4 specific co-creation sessions and workshops were organised in which:

  1. The current process flows were blueprinted and process optimisations were defined.
  2. Digital priorities were determined and wireframes were drawn.
  3. Long- and short-term infrastructural plans were built and  tested on a life-size scale.
  4. A general understanding of what it means to provide a good service and be a good service provider was arrived at with all colleagues (in collaboration with system theory experts from De Interactie-Academie).

All this, to make sure they were working on a shared vision and all pulling together.

What was the result?

An overarching and shared service vision was developed for the municipality of Lennik. All testing and co-creating resulted in:

  1. A workflow and prioritisation for setting up internal projects to improve internal services aligned with the newly developed service vision.
  2. A long- and short-term infrastructure briefing, allowing an architect to execute the new infrastructural parts of the new service design offering, including the introduction of a reception desk, discussion rooms and location-based tasks.
  3. Wireframes and guidelines for the web designer to build the new website and e-portal integrated in the service workflows. This allows for a full briefing of the subcontractors implementing the service components, so that they will work within the same overarching service vision.

In addition to these tangible results, all stakeholders (civil servants, the mayor and aldermen) were involved in the process and started talking to each other again. This has resulted in increased empathy for each other’s wants and needs. Moreover, it ensures that the service vision remains integrated in all the municipality’s tasks, even after the service designers of Made pass on the torch to the internal working groups.

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