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Center for Leadership Development The Lab

Located at 1900 E. Street NW, in Washington, The Lab at OPM was created in 2012 to bring together private sector Fellows, public servants, and students to solve complex challenges within the government. Please visit The Lab website for more information.

Transforming Government by Design

We help agencies think through ways that customized innovation programs can meet their unique needs. Then we help them build approaches or methods to address complex problems. The Lab gives innovators across government access to the most recent advances and best practices in design-led innovation. And we bring government innovators together to share lessons learned and build a community of collaboration.

Getting it Done

Our immersion projects are in-depth collaborations that pair staff from The Lab with federal agency project teams to work through the entire design process to tackle complex problems. We don’t stop at a proto-typed idea—we stay with our partners through implementation to ensure the ideas and solutions we generate create the change that is needed.

Lighting the Way

We are helping train the government workforce to integrate human-centered design into their day-to-day work. Through our courses and mentoring, public servants learn how to approach problem solving from a scientific perspective, interact more collaboratively with co-workers, and tap into their creativity to move past roadblocks.

What is Human-Centered Design?

Human-centered design is a creative and strategic approach to solving challenging problems. It blends design, strategy, qualitative research, and entrepreneurial thinking. Our method puts people at the center of our process, taking into account their complex behaviors, mental models, and needs. By using this approach to problem solving, we identify and address the root causes of problems, rather than the symptoms. The discipline of human-centered design quickly generates ideas and tests new prototypes. As a result, we create innovative solutions side by side with the people who will be sustaining them.

What Does The Lab do?

We take a design-led approach to developing and implementing policy, programs, and government services to transform government.


As a leader in the public sector movement to build and support human-centered design as an effective approach for solving complex challenges, The Lab regularly brings innovators together to share insights through:

  • An innovators network
  • Thought leader talks
  • Publications and best practices


The Lab uses project-based learning to help government organizations conduct human-centered design projects that result in groundbreaking and innovative outcomes. Some design capabilities we have and build include:

  • User experience (UX) design
  • Service design
  • Product design
  • Program design
  • Policy design
  • Design strategy
  • Design research


We build human-centered design, problem solving, and innovation skills through our Fundamentals of Human-Centered Design workshop. This workshop teaches the theory and practice of human-centered design through a monthly, three-day workshop. To learn more or sign up for a workshop, visit our upcoming schedule.

Design Coaching

Creators and change-makers often need support and expertise beyond their team. The Lab works one-on-one with individuals and teams who want guidance, coaching, and feedback as they develop their own skills using design as a tool for problem solving.

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