Policy reports are becoming more and more visually appealing. Well designed templates, figures, summaries, infographic, snappy and tweetable sentences.

This is good and to be welcome. Yet I can’t help thinking that there’s a common pattern with Ikea furniture.

What are the features of Ikea furniture?

  1. appealing design
  2. extreme usability and fitness-for-purpose – they meet exactly our need and fulfill immediately a need
  3. low durability

The first two features mirror closely what is happening in policy reports. My impression is that the third point is also a feature of new policy reports: less attention for robust evidence, and focus on data points that can be easily communicated. Policy reports have shorter and shorter durability.

I do not think that this is a necessarily true. Good design does not imply superficial findings. But from what I see around me, it often happens to be true.

And maybe it’s a bigger trend? You could apply the three criteria to most products – think mobile phones.

Maybe the big news is that policy reports are becoming more and more similar to consumer products? The consumerization of policy?