About the Center

The Center for Policy Design (CPD) is a Minnesota based non-profit, non-partisan policy design organization that focuses on redesigning important large systems to achieve the goals society has set for them. It does so by focusing leadership on five components necessary for the change of large systems: analysis, research, design, implementation, and evaluation.

The Center develops state and federal policy recommendations, including enabling legislation. It also actively assists those who decide to advance the Center’s policy recommendations.

The usual policy approach blames system performance on the failings of the people and organizations comprising the system, and then attempts to directly assist or coerce them into improved performance. Such strategies often prove ineffective; they fail to recognize that organizations must perform as dictated by the incentives that the larger system places on them. Too often the cause of chronic poor performance is that these incentives reward the undesired performance and punish the desired performance.

The Center’s policy recommendations therefore do not aim at changing an organization’s performance directly but rather seek to alter the structure of the larger system itself to replace incentives rewarding poor performance with strong incentives rewarding desired performance. This type of system redesign should lead organizations and people in the system to improve their performance in their own interest far better than any direct policy approach could encourage or coerce.

The Center’s ideas are more fully explained in its paper Architecting Large Social Systems.