Conducting an on-site immersive design inquiry with the Swedish Police Authority

In Stockholm, Sweden, May 2021, Cordillera Applications Group’s Security Design & Innovation (SDI) team conducted an on-site immersive design inquiry for the Swedish Police Authority, National Operations Department (NOA). The inquiry focused on the present and escalating emerging challenge of violent organized crime in Sweden. The 5-day design effort was the culmination of two months of multi-disciplinary security design and innovation education and consultation delivered virtually/remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions preventing earlier in-person engagement.


A 4-week online distance design education course (delivered in two back-to-back iterations to a total of 34 participants) provided an interim and cost-effective means of foundationally preparing the participants to work in design teams during a much deeper and focused in-person design engagement. This 4-week SDI-Foundations course, delivered in an asynchronous, semi-autonomous learning environment, consisted of four weekly modules. Each module introduced the participants to basic fundamental design concepts relevant to complex dynamic security contexts via readings, videos, collective engagement in discussion forums, and an individual weekly Design Challenge exercise. The participants then convened remotely in a weekly 60-90 minute Zoom conference call with U.S. and Sweden-based CAG design facilitators to discuss the week’s material and debrief the design challenge.

Cordillera Applications Group’s Security Design & Innovation (SDI) team conducted an on-site immersive design inquiry for the Swedish Police Authority, National Operations Department (NOA)
Screenshots of individual Design Challenge exercises.

This blended distance workshop approach to introducing the foundational concepts of design for security and policy applications in complex emergent contexts paved the way for the Cordillera team to provide subsequent enhanced design instruction and facilitation during an intensive 5-day in-person engagement.

Enhanced design instruction & Facilitation

Over those five days, SDI instructors/facilitators guided four design teams (consisting of members who had completed the SDI-Foundations course) through application of the CAG Design Staircase framework against the challenge of violent organized crime. Incorporating and employing a variety of design exercises, heuristic aids, and creative approaches to consider frames/paradigms, alternative futures, and the varied emergent aspects of complex systems, the design teams iterated through divergent-convergent cycles to explore novel concepts—seeking to innovate and discover that which is needed but does not yet exist to provide the organization game-changing advantage in the security environment. At the conclusion of the engagement, the four teams presented their initial design concepts to senior NOA sponsors and leadership for consideration and further exploration. Those concepts were subsequently fed into a continuing active design project within the larger organization.

The engagement was a significant success for the Cordillera team and the SDI program, as we were able to impart powerful insights for the organization, and demonstrate the critical impact of unique multi-disciplinary security design approaches on organizational reflection and thinking concerning complex dynamic security environments that defy traditional legacy approaches for deterrence, enforcement, and prosecution. The feedback and response from the sponsor and participants was noteworthy:

It wasn’t a course—it was more like looking into the light! I believe it was one of, if not, the best courses I’ve been to.

Outstanding team of instructors… Extremely skilled and committed… Can’t think of a single course, and I have done many, where the instructors have been this good. Excellent in explaining. Motivating to listen to. A delicate feeling for how to adapt during the course.

Extremely good in explaining quite complex questions that where not within the planned agenda. …an incredible job… Impressive!

I truly believe you all have changed me and many more of us with the police, how we think about and approach problems in our jobs, private lives and also the future.

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