Microtainer: social innovation & lab links we’re following (March 2014)

C/O VBG

C/O VBG

This mini blog, or bloggette, is part of our ongoing effort to spread information that we think will be interesting, insightful and useful to lab practitioners and the lab-curious. Below is a collection of resources that crossed our desks over the month of March 2014. In no particular order:

1. Booklet by Innovation Unit, “10 Ideas for 21 Century Healthcare,” describes an exciting possible future where services are delivered in radically different (empowering!) ways. The booklet provides compelling examples from around the world of how the ideas are being brought to life and explores some of the vital principles underpinning 21st century healthcare.

2. Great simple ideas for bringing more wellbeing and happiness into our everyday lives: 100 days of happy, a pledge to acknowledge and share one thing per day that makes us happy, and 24 hours of happy, a seemingly never-ending dance video of people dancing in the streets, in buildings, in gardens, with friends, to an addictively upbeat tune.

3. Excellent report, “Systemic Innovation” by The Social Innovation Europe Initiative (SIE), explains what systemic innovation is, explores strategies for transforming systems, highlights European examples of initiatives driving towards systems change, and makes recommendations on how to support systemic social innovation.

4. Blog post with a rich collection of resources, “45 Design Thinking Resources for Educators,” that are useful to anyone wanting to understand more about the design thinking movement and how strategic design may be relevant and helpful in your own setting (education-related or not).

5. Interesting read, “Systems, Messes and Interactive Planning” essay by Russell Ackoff, about the System around us, how we got into some of the mega messes (a.k.a. wicked problems), and why they are so tough to navigate and address (h/t John Maeda).

6. Huffington Post article, “What does public innovation mean?,” answers this question by pointing out that public innovation isn’t necessarily about something shiny, new or complex, but it is about something that works better, leads to better results, and creates a better pathway forward.

7. For the last half of March, three members of InWithForward were in Toronto, ON to work with St. Christopher House. The team were there to capture stories and start to re-imagine, with Drop-in Centre members and staff, what could be different for the Meeting Place and other Toronto Drop-in Centres at a system-level, service-level, neighbourhood-level, and relationship-level. The team is now onto their next Canadian starter project in Burnaby, BC. Make sure to check out InWithForward’s business model and hunches, which offer a super interesting and innovative approach to running a lab.

8. Pretty neat! “Design Action Research With Government” is a guide (with examples) for designing and implementing civic innovations with Government.

9. Super interesting blog post, “Social Sciences in Action,” by Jakob Christiansen of MindLab, where he shares the exploration, debate and “a-has!” from a meeting between social scientists Sarah Schulman (InWithForward), Anna Lochard (La 27e Region) and Jakob. Take a peek into their minds as they dive into questions like: How do we put social sciences into action and not just design thinking? What is the role of everyday people in our work? How do we spread and scale processes, not just products? “Of course, what we came up with was not definitive or polished. But it did open up some new arguments and ways of conceptualizing issues we each face in our day-to-day practice.”

10. Blog post, “How Social Innovation Labs Design and Scale Impact” by the Rockefeller Foundation, about the social innovation labs they support (including MaRS Solutions Lab!) and their thinking around the global labs movement.

11. We are always on the look-out for social innovation resources in French and we came across a bunch this month. We learned about the following french terms for “wicked problems:” problèmes complexes, problèmes irréductibles, problèmes indécidables, problèmes malins, problèmes épineux, and problèmes vicieux (h/t to Stéphane Vial and François Gougeon). Also, the National Collaboration Centre for Healthy Public Policy and the Quebec Government published this excellent french information page on wicked problems, “Les problèmes vicieux et les politiques publiques,” which explains and describes what wicked problems are and applies the concept to the realm of public health. There is also a new social innovation blog, “CRÉATIVITÉ 33” by Andre Fortin (formerly with  l’Institut du Nouveau Monde LABIS), with tools and advice for innovating. And finally, here is a round-up of what French Lab La 27e Région has in store for 2014 (they have English resources too – check them out, they are excellent communicators!).

12. Excellent report, “Innovation in 360 Degrees: Promoting Social Innovation in South Australia,” from Geoff Mulgan’s term as Adelaide’s Thinker In Residence. The report is from 2008, but there are tons of great insights for government innovators and systempreneurs. Geoff highlights key elements of public sector innovation, examples from around the world, South Australia’s biggest challenge areas (that are not dissimilar to Canada’s), and recommendations for becoming future-ready.

13. Provocative read: Guardian article challenges us to rethink the idea of the state as a catalyst for big bold ideas. Author Mariana Mazzucato argues that a program of forward-thinking public spending is crucial for a creative, prosperous society and that we must stop seeing the state as a malign influence or a waste of taxpayers’ money: “…the point of public policy is to make big things happen that would not have happened anyway. To do this, big budgets are not enough: big thinking and big brains are key.”

14. The Young Foundation announced that they’ve added top innovators to the team to spearhead its mission to disrupt inequality. You will gasp “wow” when you see the list, which includes Indy Johar (check out the SiG webinar with Indy, “From One to Many: Building Movements For Change,” from a couple months ago to get a taste of his thinking).

15. Great book lists this month: A team of editors at The Die Line, a platform and blog for package design, curated a selection of their favourite design strategy books (h/t Alexander Dirksen). The Guardian, with help from readers, came up with a list of the best books on policy leadership and innovation. And for a sure-fire way to get lost down the rabbit hole, Designers & Books is a website where 50 famous designers share the books — 678 in total — that inspire them (h/t John Pavlus via Andrea Hamilton).

16. Blog post from the Stanford Social Innovation Review, “The Ugly Truth About Scale,” offers three tips to those in the social sector tackling complex challenges: 1. Stop trying to feel so good; 2. Push to use technology much more strategically; and 3. Philanthropy must take risks (h/t Cameron Norman).

17. Blog post, “The Network Navigator,” explores how the power of a networked world is shifting the emphasis of work from expertise to navigation; includes the 8 skills of a Network Navigator, which are pretty interesting.

18. Last, but certainly not least, very exciting news from Alberta: the Government of Alberta announced the launch of a 1 billion dollar Social Innovation Endowment Fund – the first Canadian province to do so. The fund will support innovation via three streams, one of which is prototyping tools and methods, i.e. Labs. Here is the news release and the speech from the throne.

What have we missed? What lab-related links have you been following this past month?

Microtainer: social innovation & lab links we’re following (Feb 2014)

This mini blog, or bloggette, is part of our ongoing effort to spread information that we think will be interesting, insightful and useful to lab practitioners and the lab-curious. Below is a collection of resources that crossed the desks of Hyun-Duck Chung (MaRS Solutions Lab) and Satsuko VanAntwerp (SiG) over the month of February 2014. In no particular order:

  1. Blog post by Fast company with a round up of alternative design education options that “won’t break the bank” (ie. from $25/month to around 10K, instead of 100K and 4 years). Includes online options, pop-up design courses and boot camps from the likes of Austin Centre for Design, Stanford D.school, Behance, etc (found via Alexander Dirksen).

  1. Article on “The Nexus Effect: When Leaders Span Group Boundaries” highlighting three stories of cross-sector, multi-stakeholder partnerships and how this approach to leadership is becoming increasingly important for our changing times.

  1. This past Saturday, OCAD’s Situation Lab hosted a design jam, called Futurematic, where the group designed and created products from the future using the Extrapolation Lab’s foresight methodology. These products are in a vending machine in the main OCAD building — don’t miss this glimpse into the future: go see them for yourself! (My fave: In Touch – how do you really feel?) Stuart, we hope you will host more of these soon!

  1. Article in Stanford’s Social Innovation Review about how funders are exploring the deliberate reintroduction of risk-taking (ie. incorporating learning from failure and trial & error tinkering) into their processes and portfolios, in order to catalyze breakthrough change. Also, this blog post by Nesta’s Philip Colligan and Helen Goulden talks about how labs can make better funding decisions.

  1. A guide to prototyping new ideas put together by Nesta and ThinkPublic.

  1. Article highlighting nine strategies to deliver impact at scale distilled from Year Up’s lived experience of “scaling what works” (note: also appeared in SSIR). For another angle on the topic of scaling, check out this super interesting blog post exploring “Innovation for Development: Scaling Up or Evolving?” by Giulio Quagiotto, UN Global Pulse Lab, and Milica Begovic Radojevic, UNDP Europe & Central Asia. Also, this e-book, “Scaling: Small Smart Moves For Outsized Results,” explores how to achieve big goals using minimal efforts.

  1. Two great publications from Accenture on public sector innovation: “Delivering Public Service for the Future: Navigating the Shifts” describes four profound structural shifts and a corresponding framework of practical actions governments can take to deliver the public service outcomes they want at a cost that can be sustained. “Radically Rethinking Public Services” makes the case for citizen-centred public services that are co-designed with citizens — in order to lower the cost of service delivery, while improving citizen outcomes (reminded of Nesta’s Radical Efficiency model, also awesome)

  1. Report and implementation how-to guide: “Public & Collaborative: Designing Services for Housing” by Public Policy Lab, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and Parsons DESIS Lab, brings together 18 months of discovery and co-design with agency staff, service providers, and New York City residents. The report illustrates how the team applied user research and service design methods to the provision of housing services.

  1. Blog post by Momenteer Erika Bailey about culture and behaviour change and why discomfort is part of the process: “It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better – A Cautionary Tale.”

  1. Article in FastcoExist, “How To Turn Colleges Into Incubators For Changemaking Design,” provides five tips for reaching out to colleges. The article also makes the case for seasoned designers to work with design students in order to plant the seed for a future in social good design.

  1. Book: “Enabling City 2” (and this cute, short video: Your Imagination Matters) by Chiara Camponeschi. In the words of MindLab’s Christian Bason, “Chiara Camponeschi has written a powerful contribution to our thinking about the future of cities. Collectively, the essays, articles and cases presented in this volume provide more than insight and inspiration – they demonstrate the emergence of a very different kind of urban reality: human, sharing, inclusive, resilient, innovative. The ideas in this book should influence anyone involved with urban and civic development, whether professionally or personally. Enabling City will be a tremendously valuable resource for many years to come.”

  1. Online version of Kennisland’s Annual Report for 2013 — beautifully designed and highlighting some great achievements including: a neighbourhood crowdfunding initiative, a series on social design for complex societal problems (the wicked series), and a social innovation lab gathering with leading labs from around the world (can you spot SiG@Waterloo’s own Sam Laban in the picture?).

  1. Excellent write up by Nesta’s Geoff Mulgan about public sector labs and social innovation labs: what are they, background, different methods, different typologies, and some great questions for the future of lab practice.

  1. Blog post exploring the differences between social entrepreneurship vs. social innovation (I’ve found this paper by France Westley helpful in defining this difference, particularly figure 1 on page 4).

  1. Fascinating summary of the book, The Moral Imagination: The Art & Soul of Building Peace, by John Paul Lederach - explores the theory of moral imagination, which has many overlaps with movement building, partnership brokering, facilitation, non-violent communications… all in the name of developing solutions (co-designing them!) to tough social challenges. The summary also has a lot of great metaphors: spiders and webs, partnerships, yeast – catalysts for movements.

  1. Blog post summarizing thoughts and perspectives from GovLab Ideas Luncheon Series on “Applying Human Centred Design Principles to Public Problems” with Jesper Christiansen of MindLab. Jesper illustrates the concept by talking about the Ministry of Employment’s approach to transforming the employment system — a cornerstone of their social welfare system and a significant public expenditure.

  1. The Natural Step’s Sustainable Transition Lab has updated the stages in their lab process on their website. Check out what happens during Pre-lab, Phase I, II, and III.

  1. Interesting blog post by Joe Julier, researcher at FutureGov and London’s DESIS Lab, exploring whether social design is a new tool for a designer’s toolkit or whether it is becoming ingrained in design philosophy (found via Terrie Chan).

  2. This is very cool: “ReFraming: The Art of Thinking Differently” is a website that takes you through, step-by-step, to help you reframe a situation or challenge – that is, to see the other side of the coin.

What have we missed? What lab-related links have you been following this past month?

Hyun-Duck & Satsuko

Microtainer: social innovation & lab links we’re following (Dec 2013 & Jan 2014)

This mini blog, or bloggette, is part of our ongoing effort to spread information that we think will be interesting, insightful and useful to lab practitioners and the lab-curious. Below is a collection of resources that crossed our desks over the months of December 2013 and January 2014. In no particular order:

  1. Article by Zaid Hassan exploring “what are social laboratories?” — Zaid explains that social labs are social, experimental and systemic. For a quick glance, check out Zaid’s webinar and slides via the ALIA Institute. For a deeper dive, check out his website and newly launched (this past monday!) book: the social lab revolution.

  1. Article about the UK Government’s design lab pilot: a Policy Lab to apply design principles to policy-making and public service.  Additional links in the article about the benefits of applying design in policy making.

  1. Awesome map of the global government lab landscape and website acting as a hub of information on the public innovation spaces — prepared by Daniela Selloni (Polimi DESIS Lab) and Eduardo Staszowski (Parsons DESIS Lab), Christian Bason (MindLab) and Andrea Schneider (Public By Design).

  1. Operating much like a think tank within the Singapore Government, the Centre for Strategic Futures acts on what will be the important challenges of the tomorrow — aiming to create an agile public sector in Singapore.

  1. Nesta’s Geoff Mulgan writes an excellent paper about design in government and social innovation and blog post with smart suggestions for making the case for social innovation to elected officials.

  1. Media update and project summary about the European Design Innovation Platform (EDIP) – a project to increase the use of design for innovation and growth across Europe, financed by the European Commission and in collaboration with Design Council, MindLab and others.

  1. Online mentoring and training program about Gov 3.0 offered by The Governance Lab (GovLab) out of NYU. The website also provides thinking and exploration into the notion of Gov3.0 (different from gov 2.0).

  1. Report “Restarting Britain 2” by Design Council explores the impact of design on public, private and design sectors and shows that the best of design thinking can help to make (public) services more relevant to current needs and reduce cost.

  1. Paper “The Journey to the Interface: how public sector design can connect user to reform” by UK-based think tank Demos explores public service design and it’s relationship with citizen engagement and co-production.

  1. Upcoming book (September 2014 release) “Design for Policy” by MindLab’s Christian Bason provides a detailed analysis of design as a tool for addressing public problems and capturing opportunities for achieving better and more efficient societal outcomes for citizens and governments (ie. co-design, co-creation, co-production). Also see Christian’s latest blog post: 2014 will be the year of Experimentation talking about the shifting narrative in the public sector around learning from failure (and along the experimentation vein, don’t miss the upcoming Fail Forward Festival coming to Toronto in July).

  1. Great blog and master’s program on service innovation and design offered by the Laurea University of Applied Sciences in Espoo, Finland. Also, there is a PhD in design for public services out of the AHO university in Oslo, Norway.

  1. Excellent articulation of empathy — this video by RSA Shorts to the soothing voice of Brene Brown (of the Tedtalk on vulnerability) and this book “Realizing Empathy” by Slim (thanks to Andrea Hamilton for letting me know about this great talk at Rotman as part of Rotman’s ongoing speaker series… last night was David Kelley of IDEO and coming up is Geoff Mulgan).

  1. Explanation of a powerful convening technique called “Peer Input Process” via the Tamarack Institute. Peer Input Process is a technique was designed to assist people obtain input from peers in a relatively quick and structured way.

  1. Blog post about embracing difference and how cultivating our ability to collaborate among diverse stakeholders will allow us to create truly transformative change. Written by the wonderfully articulate art of hosting steward Tuesday Ryan-Hart.

  1. Blog post on the Good website “From Pools to School Lunches: Why public interest design is changing the way we do things” overflowing with exciting projects at the intersect of design x public (and societal) good.

  1. Blog post by Amanda Mundy of The Moment about the journey and lessons learned from designing and setting up their innovation studio.

  1. The audio from a Metro Morning (radio) interview with John Brodhead exploring the future of public transportation and engaging in cross-sector collaborations. In this article, John also talks about his upcoming initiative “100 in 1 Day” where 100 urban ‘interventions’ will spring up across to Toronto in June (inspired by Montreal, Copenhagen and Bagota).

  2. The book “Happy City: Transforming our lives through urban design” by Charles Montgomery from the Museum of Vancouver (and MOV’s CityLab) gets rave reviews in the New York Times (glad I got this book for my BFF’s birthday!).

  3. Great concept: Pop Up Parks! The idea was part of Design Council’s Knee High Design Challenge (more info about the challenge and the other awesome projects ideas here). Also interesting on the topic of parks is Nesta paper “Rethinking Parks”, which highlights the need for new business models to run parks, given cuts in government funding, and discusses 20 international examples of how parks innovators are doing just that. (check out the Nesta’s Rethinking Parks contest to submit your ideas)

– Satsuko

Social innovation labs: Top tips and common pitfalls

Social innovation labs (also called design labs and change labs) are an approach to tackling complex societal challenges that require systems change. This new league of labs provides a structured process for approaching messy and complex challenges and a safe and creative environment to experiment and prototype radical innovations. It also enables deep collaboration among multi-disciplinary teams and diverse stakeholders, and takes a user-centred approach as opposed to institution- or organization-centred approaches.

Labs are part of a global movement and Canada is no exception. There are a number of formal labs and organizations using lab-like approaches sprouting up across Canada. Some of these include:

It is worth mentioning that MaRS Solutions Lab is a pioneering partnership with the Government of Ontario, an example of hybridization where the government is co-creating a lab physically established on its borders rather than entirely in-house (where escaping “innovators’ dilemmas” is more challenging).

Last Thursday, Joeri van den Steenhoven, director of MaRS Solutions Lab, presented his views on systems change and social innovation labs to an audience of over 300 people. Joeri’s broad demographic audience ranged from federal, provincial and municipal public servants to global consultancies to grassroots NGOs and changemakers galore, not to mention citizens who as “passionate amateurs” hold the flame of commitment to a range of vexing social and environmental challenges.

Joeri brings to the lab a decade of experience in the lab world, founding and directing Kennisland (or Knowledge Land), a think-tank turned social innovation lab based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It is not surprising, then, that his email inbox is filled with requests from across Canada for help implanting lab thinking and lab doing in this thematically diverse and dynamic field of social innovation solutions generation, prototyping and scaling.

Joeri_blog

Joeri van den Steenhoven discusses systems change during his talk

With more and more practitioners, organizations and groups embracing lab-like approaches, Joeri’s expertise and reflections are timely. Below are some of the top tips and common lab pitfalls he highlighted in his talk, which include an emphasis on scaling, learning and doing.

1. Scale: Build in the potential to scale solutions up and out

“If we want to change systems, we can’t do it without scale.”

If your lab has systems-tipping ambitions, it’s important to ensure that the emerging solutions have the potential to scale. When it comes to social innovation, scale refers to both scaling out—that is, replicating solutions horizontally across locations and geographies while adapting to local context—and scaling up—integrating solutions vertically across hierarchies.

In an article for Ecology and Society, Michele-Lee Moore and Frances Westley explain how the impact of an innovation and its ability to span boundaries are positively correlated: “Complex challenges demand complex solutions. By their very nature, these problems are difficult to define and are often the result of rigid social structures that effectively act as ‘traps’… Therefore, when a social innovation crosses scales, the innovation is crossing a boundary that separates organizations, groups, hierarchical levels or social sub-systems, whether they are economic, cultural, legal, political, or otherwise. The more boundaries that the innovation crosses, the wider and possibly deeper the impact, and the more likely the result is more transformative change.”

While isolated solutions can and do positively impact communities, a solution that intervenes across vertical and horizontal scales has the potential to fundamentally shift systems and get at the root causes of our really tough societal challenges. (Tim Draimin expands further on this topic in his blog post: “The Social Innovator’s Guide to Systems Thinking.”)

2. Learn: Enable key stakeholders and users to learn and reflect together

“Develop solutions with key stakeholders and users, not for them.”

The challenges that labs tackle are not simply black and white—they’re layered, messy and daunting. Part of the lab’s role is to enable stakeholders to deepen their understanding of the challenge by helping them to see themselves as part of the system and gain perspective into the challenges and tensions felt by other stakeholders. No one group has the answer, but by working together the lab is able to develop holistic, relevant and responsive solutions. Furthermore, involving stakeholders from the get-go builds champions that enable the solutions to reach scale.

3. Do: Push through the failure, sweat and resistance of implementation.

“Solutions have to break out of the safety of the lab.”

Traditional think-tanks stop at the brainstorming. Labs must take the next steps by trying out their recommendations and adapting them based on the realities on the ground, by navigating bureaucracies and building networks, partnerships and champions, and by doing the hard work of figuring out how to implement and scale. Labs act as a vehicle for change, but the road to systems change is long and winding.

Want to learn more about labs?

For more about the MaRS Solutions Lab, including the challenges that the lab is currently tackling (the future of food, the future of health, the future of government and the future of work), visit their website here.

This post was originally published on the MaRS blog on January 17. It has been cross-posted with permission from the author.

Microtainer: social innovation & lab links we’re following (November 2013)

This mini blog, or bloggette, is part of our ongoing effort to spread information that we think will be interesting, insightful and useful to lab practitioners and the lab-curious. Below is a collection of resources that crossed the desks of Hyun-Duck Chung (MaRS Solutions Lab) and Satsuko VanAntwerp (SiG) over the month of November 2013. In no particular order:

1. The UK Cabinet Office announces that they will be launching a policy lab in Dec 2014. This lab will work with government departments to tackle their toughest problems drawing on service design and human centred design methods. Rather than the focus being on greater internal efficiency, the lab will focus on creating better outcomes for end users (citizens).

2. Awesome manifestos by Brute Labs (design and tech studio with all-volunteer team that has launched 11 social change projects around the world) and InWithForward (the latest project by Sarah Schulman + Jonas, Dan, Yani).

3. Article by Beth Kanter “Seven Truths about Change to Lead By and Live By” expanding on great quotes including: “Change is a threat when done to me, but an opportunity when done by me”, “Change is a campaign, not a decision”, and “Everything can look like a failure in the middle”.

4. Report by nef’s Lucie Stephens and Julia Slay: Co-production in Mental Health: a literature review. The report looks at how co-production is being used in the mental health field, i.e. what evidence there is of the impact of co-production on mental health support, and which aspects of co-production are being developed in the sector.

5. Blog post by MindLab’s Christian Bason: Is the public sector more innovative than we think? Christian hypothesizes that the public sector is better at innovation than the private sector.

6. Super interesting talk by Indy Johar “Do it for (y)ourself” bursting with ideas for community-led social change, reflections on the challenge of scale, and the tension of ‘the craft’ and ‘the knowledge economy’, all in less than 20mins.

7. Reminded of these great method cards by IDEO: a 51 card deck to inspire design.

8. Another great article in the guardian about public service design. This one looks at asking quesitons, embracing risk and user-centred design. ‘Get creative: eight tips for designing better public services’

9. Blog post by Nesta’s Laura Bunt exploring whether we need to find a better definition for social innovation.

10. Report exploring the relationship between Art and Resilience and how fortifying a city’s social and cultural fabric is just as (or more?) important as upgrading a city’s emergency response, planners, policy makers, social innovators, etc.

11. Metcalf report by reknowned ecological economists Tim Jackson and Peter Victor about work-life balance, wellbeing and the green economy at the community scale.

12. Recent blog posts by Assaf Weis on the sharing economy (Sharing Can Truly Disrupt Business) and Kaitlin Almack on building partnerships (Increasing the Impact of CSR Through Multi-Stakeholder Collaborations)

13. Infographic comparing ‘old design thinking’ with human centered design and co-design

14. Issue No. 2 of The Alpine Review includes articles by Bryan Boyer (about cultures of decision making) and Dan Hill (about Fabrica).

15. Awesome graphic recorders and facilitators: ThinkLink Graphics, Ripple Think Inc, Playthink, DScribe. Also, see this monthly meet-up for visual thinkers.

What have we missed? We invite you to share in the comment section the resources that you’ve come across recently that you think would be interesting to this community!

- Hyun-Duck and Satsuko

Microtainer: social innovation & lab links we’re following (October 2013)

This mini blog, or bloggette, is part of our ongoing effort to spread information that we think will be interesting, insightful and useful to lab practitioners and the lab-curious. Below is a collection of resources that crossed our desks over the month of October 2013. In no particular order:

1. Excellent list of resources about public sector innovation following a conference in Switzerland: REDESIGN:GOV. Event tagline: “Is there hope to make government more innovative?”

2. Reflective blog posts following a Toronto lab practitioners gathering in September. Julie Sommerfreund, via theToronto Atmospheric Fund (TAF) blog, explores the nature of complex problems in her post: Wicked problems need wicked cool solutions. Kaitlin Almack blogs about Leading Boldly Network’s theory of change in her post: Exploring Collaborative Social Innovation; and Courtney Lawrence reflects on the well being and the human element in her post: Emotions In Innovation.

3. Video interviews, panel discussions and talks from ‘CityLab: Urban Solutions to Global Challenges”, an event that brought together 300 global city leaders for a series of conversations about urban ideas that are shaping the world’s metro centers.

4. Zaid Hassan of Reos Partners launched a new book: The Social Labs Revolution. During  April 21-29, Zaid will be touring Canada to offer training workshops drawing on his experience in addressing complex challenges. Also see his excellent summary of the Change Lab approach, his recent post on the NESTA blog, and this facebook group.

5. The book “Public and Collaborative: Exploring The Intersection of Design, Social Innovation and Public Policy” includes 11 articles that presents labs’ projects and activities during 2012-2013. The book has four themes: 1) Designing New Relationships Between People and the State, 2) Design Schools as Agents of Change, 3) Experimental Places for Social and Public Innovation, 4) Collaborative Design Methods and Tools: The Teen Art Park Project. The book was edited and coordinated by Ezio Manzini and Eduardo Staszowski of the DESIS Labs network with 23 authors — including Toronto’s Luigi Ferrara of Institute without Boundaries.

7. Slides and videos from MindLab’s “How Public Design” gathering in September, including a short video interview with MaRS Solutions Lab Director Joeri van den Steenhoven talking about “Institutionalizing Design Practice” and Kennisland Director Chris Sigaloff talking about “How To Use Design” in the public sector.

8. Report “When Bees Meet Trees” explores how large social sector organisations can help to scale social innovation (with support from NESTA)

9. Excellent website about using human centred design to improve campus mental health: Mental Health x Design. Developed through a joint project between OCAD University and Ryerson University in Toronto (curated by Andrea Yip) asking “How do we design systems and structures that will lead to more creative and mentally healthy campus communities?”.

10. Awesome blog by MaRS Solutions Lab’s latest addition, Terrie Chan, exploring the intersection of design x social innovation, ie. human-centered design, service design, systems design, and the methodology of design-thinking.

11. Reos Partners, with support from the J.W. McConnell foundation, produced this great paper on Change Labs that we recently re-discovered.

12. Short video explaining Berkana’s Two-Loops theory of systems change. I find this diagram really helpful to see where we are in systems and our role in changing them. We all have a role.

13. Website and platform ‘Learn Do Share’ is a book series, a set of collaborative experiments and methods, and a resource and r&d collective for open collaboration, design fiction & social innovation. It is closely tied to a Toronto-based gathering called diy days.

14. Article of an interview with Adam Kahane. Adam shares his thinking, reflections and valuable lessons from over two decades working in systems change, conflict brokering, and collaborating with unlikely allies.

15. Inspiring Tedx Talk by Ashoka Fellow, Founder of Time Bank USA and pioneer of poverty law, Dr. Edgar Cahn. In this talk he explains the concept of Time banking and Co-Production. The Time Banking UK website further explores the links and relationship between time banking and co-production, which is valuable to think about when developing solutions to complex challenges.

What have we missed? We invite you to share in the comment section the resources that you’ve come across recently that you think would be interesting to this community!

- Satsuko

Microtainer: social innovation & lab links we’re following (September 2013)

This mini blog, or bloggette, is part of our ongoing effort to spread information that we think will be interesting, insightful and useful to lab practitioners and the lab-curious. Below is a collection of resources that crossed the desks of Hyun-Duck Chung (MaRS Solutions Lab) and Satsuko VanAntwerp (SiG) over the month of September 2013. In no particular order:

1. List of books, articles, and other readings related to simulations for social innovation labs put together by Mark Tovey of SiG@Waterloo. Topics include: social innovation, policy, modelling social and political systems, tools for groups, toolkits, information design, and interaction design.

2. Report about ‘Design for Public Good’ that includes tools for enhancing government innovation and public service design and twelve case studies. Cases include MindLab’s ‘Young Taxpayers’ project and a profile about Helsinki Design Lab. The report’s authors are Design for Public Good and SEE (Sharing Experiences Europe) Platform.

3. New book about citizen-focused government: Putting Citizens First. Academics and practitioners from around the globe share stories about putting the citizen in the center of public development. MindLab’s Christian Bason talks about user involvement in Chapter 5 ‘Engaging Citizens in Policy Innovation’.

4. Guidebook on hosting meaningful conversations: Gather: The Art and Science of Effective Convening’ from the Rockefeller Foundation by The Rockefeller Foundation and The Monitor Institute. The guidebook covers the essentials of planning and executing effective gatherings, including: deciding whether to convene, clarifying a “north star” purpose, and making design choices that flow from that purpose, design principles, key questions, and critical issues to be considered and customized per situation.

5. NoTosh is a UK company that applies design thinking to teach and learn anything, working with schools and corporations alike. One of their recent blog posts covers Hexagonal Thinking: an effective way to help learners synthesize ideas by allowing them to quickly model different ways of organizing their thoughts. As hexagonal syntheses are often unique to individual team members, it can be used to highlight areas of uncertainty, gaps in connecting existing material, and guide subsequent ideation and prototyping work.

6. Talk by MaRS Solutions Lab Director Joeri van den Steenhoven at the RQIS (Réseau québécois en innovation sociale) conference “L’innovation sociale, un enjeu mondial”. The introduction is in French but Joeri’s talk is in English.

7. Creative Confidence is the latest collaborative project of the Kelley brothers David (founder of IDEO and Stanford’s d.school) and Tom (partner at IDEO and executive fellow at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business). Designed as a tool kit for developing creative confidence in everyone, the book includes ideas and activities that help readers to apply design thinking and processes into their personal and professional lives. The anecdotes illustrate examples of how others have done it, while providing an insider’s look into their respective organizations. David’s TedTalk (2012) provides a preview if you can’t wait for the book to come out in October 2013.

8. The Solution Revolution launched in Toronto this month. William D. Eggers & Paul Macmillan of Deloitte provides a highly readable synthesis on “how business, government, and social enterprises are teaming up to solve society’s toughest problems”. Chapter by chapter the book highlights the key players, technologies, scalable business models, new types of currencies and exchanges that are creating an exciting ecosystem of possibilities. A must-read for anyone tackling local and global challenges to create better solutions.

9. The Center for Urban Pedagogy’s (CUP) produces a “series of foldout posters that use graphic design to explore and explain public policy”. Produced four times a year, each poster is a collaborative output of a designer, an advocate, and CUP. Visit their Making Policy Public site for project schedules and submission guidelines.

10. Reflective blog posts about the state of Canada’s Lab practice by Chris Lee and Ben McCammon following a lab practitioners gathering. Chris explores human-centered design theory and complexity and asks “What is the cost of not building relationships?” in his post: Spinning Plates & Relationships. Ben guides us through a series of questions to start to unravel systems change concepts in his post: You Say You Want Systems Change.

11. Very clear and accessible definition of ‘wicked problems’ from a business and design lens. Also a useful link list to other resources. This gem was put together by the smart folks at The Austin Centre for Design.

12. A Problem Solving Primer, put together by the Australian government’s DesignGov team, is a collection of answers from decision makers, practitioners and all-around talented people around four questions: 1) What one thing would you recommend when dealing with limited resources and competing priorities? 2) What is the key thing to remember when you are confronted by complex problems? 3) When you’re confronted with a difficult issue, where do you start? 4) What is your favourite tool or technique to use in problem solving?

13. In the paper ‘Friendly Hacking Into The Public Sector: Co-creating Public Policies Within Regional Governments’, Public Innovation Lab La 27e Region share their lessons learned and experiences with conducting fifteen experiments with nine regional administrations in France. The paper highlights the key components of friendly hacking, a framework for implementing radical innovation in the public administration context.

14. Three blog reflections from MindLab’s How Public Design seminar among lab practitioners and international innovation gurus. MaRS Solutions Lab’s Joeri van den Steenhoven explores the impact of labs and how design-led innovations can help government in his post: ‘Design Innovation and Government’. Kennisland’s Dr. Sarah Schulman explores the implications of lab solutions and of building the Lab practice in her post: ‘Means and Ends’. MindLab’s Jesper Christiansen explores what we mean by public design and take-aways from conversations at the session in his post: “How Public Design: exploring a new conversation #1” (keeping an eye out for a #2!).

15. Reflective blog posts about co-production in Canada following the Toronto Co-Production Meetup with nef’s Lucy Stephens. Lucy Gao explores the similarities, differences and overlaps between Co-Production and Collaborative Consumption in her post: ‘What Is Co-Production and How Does It Relate To Collaborative Consumption’. Melissa Tulio shares her perspective and application to the Ontario Public Service and the six elements of co-production in her post: ‘Co-Production: learnings from Lucie Stephens’. Terrie Chan explores wellbeing, public service design and the power of partnerships and collaboration in her post: ‘Putting The Public Back In Public Services And Policies: What Co-Production And Pop-Ups Can Teach Us’.

16. The book ‘Design Forward: Creative Strategies for Sustainable Change’ explores how design can be used as a strategic and holistic way of finding and creating sustainable and successful solutions. Written by Frog Design founder Hartmut Esslinger.

What have we missed? We invite you to share in the comment section the resources that you’ve come across recently that you think would be interesting to this community!

Hyun-Duck and Satsuko

Microtainer: social innovation & lab links we’re following (August 2013)

 

This mini blog, or bloggette, is part of our ongoing effort to spread information that we think will be interesting, insightful and useful to lab practitioners and the lab-curious. Below is a collection of resources that crossed our desks over the month of August 2013. In no particular order:

 

 

1. Article in the Stanford Social Innovation Review by Sarah Schulman about Kennisland’s Lab with Lab practitioners from around the world.

2. Video from Helsinki Design Lab lecture at the University of Melbourne. Bryan Boyer presents ‘Brickstarter’ and Justin Cook presents ‘Low2No’, followed by a conversation with journalist/architect Rory Hyde and audience Q&A.

3. Seven short videos from seven IDEO teams from across the globe explaining one of their core values — including: take ownership, talk less do more, make others successful, be optimistic, collaborate, learn from failure and embrace ambiguity.

4. Blog post by Andrea Yip exploring design thinking as a concept and how it can apply to designing strategy for campus mental health

5. Idea Bank: platform to crowdsource ideas on how to foster innovation in the public sector. The EU Commission, MindLab and a working group are collecting ideas around five topics: vision for the state in society, enabling innovation, leading innovation, doing innovation, and measuring innovation.

6. Article about a talk by Open IDEO’s Tom Hulme where Tom discusses the rise of widespread community engagement, what they have learned from OpenIDEOand how OpenIDEO is leveraging the rise of the participation economy.

7. Article sharing the top tips of public innovators on how they have been encouraging local government teams to innovate.

8. Blog post by IDEO’s Tim Brown sharing thinking about intentional design “how your morning coffee can make you a better designer”

9. Blog post by Sarah Schulman reflects on observations between labs in Canada (MaRS Solutions Lab), Singapore (The Lien Centre) and France (27e Region).

10. Reading list for this year’s Social Innovation eXchange (SIX) Summer School in Seoul, Korea. Resources relate to the conference’s theme of ‘Reshaping our cities and making them thrive’.

11. The Campaign Lab, an initiative is supported by nef and the finance innovation lab,  is a 9 month program for ‘economic justice campaigners’ to think systemically and strategically about the issues they are tackling.

12. New Economics Institute: working to build a New Economy that prioritizes the well-being of people and the planet. They are the north american sister organization of the new economics foundation.

13. Blog post discussing the way to a designer’s heart. A cheat sheet for working with designers

14. Video interview with MindLab’s Runa Sabroe talking about how user-centered innovation can create new solutions for the public sector

15. Resource page from the The United Way of Calgary: Leading Boldly Network’s Toolbox Series. The Toolbox contains FAQ around social innovation and change labs and links to videos, articles, reports and case examples.

16. The Government Innovator. A short video put together by the Nova Scotia public service as a promotion to a conference last year. So great.

What have we missed? We invite you to share in the comment section the resources that you’ve come across recently that you think would be interesting to this community!

Satsuko

Co-production: A powerful approach for public service designers

There are many entry points for co-production: well-being and happiness indexes, asset-based community development, opportunities for impact investing and social impact bonds, the transition town movement, innovations in elder care, collaborative consumption and the list goes on. Co-production is an approach so well suited to creating positive social change that once it is learned you start seeing potential for it everywhere.

At least that was my reaction. I first learned about co-production during a work term at MindLab in 2011. As a research analyst for the Danish cross-ministry innovation lab, I scoured the web and devoured any reports, articles, blog posts and news stories I could find on the topic. Lucie Stephens, the head of co-production at the United Kingdom–based new economics foundation (nef) had written many of these pieces. For the past 10 years, Lucie and her nef colleagues have been thinking, writing about and doing co-production. We were delighted to have Lucie join SiG’s Inspiring Action for Social Impact Series (in partnership with the MaRS Global Leadership series) to share her latest thoughts on co-production via a public talk at MaRS last week.

 

What’s the big fuss? Co-production is a different approach to public service delivery

In a nutshell, co-production is about designing and delivering services in a true partnership with both citizens and professionals. That’s right, citizens are expected to take responsibility, alongside professionals, for helping themselves and one another. The secret sauce of co-production is that it values professional training and lived experience equally. By blending top-down and bottom-up expertise during the design and ongoing delivery of services, the approach creates better outcomes for citizens and is more cost effective for governments.

“Co-production is a relationship where professionals and citizens share power to plan and deliver support together, recognizing that both partners have vital contributions to make in order to improve quality of life for people and communities.” —Co-production Critical Friends Group, 2012

Co-design is obvious, but co-delivery is not… yet

The strategic design (and design-thinking) community has long embraced both human-centred approaches that prioritize the needs of the end user above all and participatory approaches that involve end users throughout the design process. However, it is still less common for designers to incorporate end users as part of the ongoing delivery of the service—that is, for the end users to be co-deliverers alongside the professionals.

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c/o The Challenge of Co-Production

Furthermore, designers who are incorporating co-delivery seem to be doing so almost by accident, without realizing all of the positive benefits of this approach. A designer may choose to incorporate co-delivery because he or she recognizes that doing so makes the service more responsive to the realities on the ground, as well as cheaper to operate than what is currently in place. However, he or she may not realize the added sociological benefits. For example, contributing is an essential daily ingredient for well-being. Enabling someone to give back to society also yields other positive benefits, like a strengthened social fabric, which in turn leads to greater feelings of safety, trust, inclusion and quality of life for those who are part of that community.

While it is important to note that co-production is not the answer for all services, there is an enormous opportunity to incorporate a co-production approach in many of our public services. Public services that traditionally have long-term relationships with citizens, such as caregiving, healthcare, justice and education, make particularly good candidates for re-designs that consider co-production. Despite its incredible potential, co-production remains largely under-used, as many designers are not aware of its full range of capabilities.

The Family by Family program illustrates the power of co-production

Designed by the team behind In With For at the The Australian Centre for Social Innovation, Family by Family is a mentoring program where a network of families helps other families to grow and change together. The In With For team aimed to address the problem that an increasing number of children were being taken out of their families and thrust into foster care while social services did not have the resources to keep up with the growing demand.

The In With For team spoke with and involved end users (the families) throughout the design process. What surfaced was that struggling families would benefit immensely from support and mentorship from other families who had been through similar rough times, who were now doing better and who could share their lived experiences. Family by Family matches whole families with whole families, shifts the roles of professionals from experts to coaches, increases resources as the program succeeds (and as there are more families to help other families) and focuses on thriving rather than simply surviving.

What I find particularly exciting about this example is that it enables families to become self-reliant and empowered by their services, not at the mercy of them. Plus, it takes an asset-based approach (abundance thinking) that values and celebrates the skills, innate gifts and lived experiences that already exist within the members of the families. Through this example, service designers can see how progressing past co-design to include co-delivery can significantly accelerate the positive impact of a service solution.

Co-production is not a new approach; it is the way we did things before there were public services. Using co-production intentionally as an approach to designing public services has the power to help us transition to a world where communities spearhead the changes that are most relevant to their needs, with the support of government policy.

Are you wondering if your service involves co-production? Check it against nef’s list of six co-production principles.

  1. An asset-based approach: Does your service acknowledge and celebrate the assets within the community?
  2. Working on capabilities: Does your service build the skills of those involved?
  3. Developing mutuality: Does your service broker a true partnership between professional and user?
  4. Growing networks: Does your service support, share and stretch, connecting with those other than the usual suspects?
  5. Blurring roles: Some people are paid, others are not, but all are important.
  6. Acting as catalysts: Does your service provide a new role for professionals—from experts to coaches to facilitators?

Further co-production resources

Inspiring Co-Production Examples (mentioned in Lucie’s talk)

Editor’s note: this blog originally appeared in the MaRS Blog on July 29, 2013. It has been cross-posted with permission.

Innovations in Elder Care

Last week upon my return from holidays, I did a pechakucha (a presentation format where 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each; total of 6 minutes 40 seconds) about innovations in elder care. The slides are viewable below with the accompanying explanation. (Note: a version of this post also appears on Think Thrice)

In 20 years, Canadians aged 65 years and older will account for roughly one quarter of our population. But our elder care system is already strained and looking more and more like an assembly line, with our loved ones being commodified.

These issues are close to my heart because for the last six years of my father’s life, we navigated the healthcare and elder care system together. We experienced a system that is more about keeping people alive than about quality of that life. Particularly in nursing homes, I witnessed very upsetting losses of dignity. I have since learned of exciting and inspiring approaches to elder care from around the world that we need here in Canada. I will share three.

This first model comes from Denmark’s Fredericia Municipality and got started because of a pair of socks. Imagine I’m an elderly woman and I’m having trouble putting on my control socks. Instead of a caretaker coming to my home twice a day to put them on and take them off, under this new model…

… a personal trainer would come to my home and work with me to get stronger on a 6-8 week program so that I can manage my socks myself. There are immediate cost savings (8 wks vs. twice daily forever) and preventative cost savings to the health system since I am healthier in general.

Most importantly, from the citizen perspective, I can walk up the stairs with more ease, play with my grandchildren, and am more comfortable in my own body. I feel empowered by the system, not at the mercy of it.  A big part of the model are sessions like the one pictured here where professionals come together to co-create the senior’s rehabilitation plan with the senior.

They ask a very simple question… “What would you like to be able to do again?”, focusing on bringing back the ability to function in a self reliant way. The public service is treated as an intervention rather than a long term relationship with the citizen.

The model is gaining popularity in other municipalities in Denmark. According to MindLab, it is rumored that two thirds of Danish municipalities are using some form of the Fredericia model. The previous director of care in Fredericia has stated that the model provides an efficiency dividend of around 15% annually. This is all while increasing citizen satisfaction and quality of life!

The next model is from Japan, where the nursing home system had long been two tiered: either low quality of care or extremely costly and thus out of reach for most. Also, nursing homes were less culturally accepted because it was thought to be honorable to take care of ones parents into their old age, despite the strain this may have on career paths and personal lives.

The Shinkoukai model addresses quality of care and affordability in three unique ways: it has a social impact element by employing marginalized citizens (including homeless, disabled and non-Japanese Asians), it ensure high quality care by gaining third party certification (the ISO-9001, a quality rating used by restaurants and hotels), and minimizes costs by purchasing unused buildings (farmhouse, university dorm, office buildings) and converting them into nursing homes.

The founder of the model, Masue Kitayama, has been working on elder care challenges for over 40 years and has become one of Ashoka Japan’s first two fellows. She is credited for catalyzing change to senior life insurance policy laws, that initially only insured incapacitated seniors, but now also covers seniors who require less care. You can also check nurse insurance liability where you will find multiple insurance option.

Masue’s impact can be seen manifested in the growth in number of care homes across Japan: from 2500 in 1985 to 7300 in 2009. She just opened this intensive care unit, picture here, a couple weeks ago.

This last model is a different approach to rest homes; it is a cohousing model for seniors started by a group of aging feminist activists in the Paris suburb of Montreuil. These women had fought for their rights their whole lives  and were not interested in living by someone else’s rules or schedule as they got older.

The idea is simple: Rather than moving into a seniors home, the women would live together in a large house and take care of one another. No professional staff, like nurses or cooks. They would be free to live as they chose.

This model was created by Therese Clerc, who, in her 60s, began thinking hard about how she wanted to live in her old age. To learn more about her options, she began visiting seniors homes and talking with residents about their experiences.

Appalled by what she learned, she rounded up a group of friends and began lobbying French politicians to fund what became the baba yaga’s house. It took 13 years, but the women eventually convinced funders to construct a six million dollar six-story women’s only seniors home. The women moved in October 2012.

All of this inspired Montrealer Janet Torge to start tinkering with the baba yaga model to see how it could be replicated in Canada. Based on the same co-housing principles of living together without professional staff, Janet’s radical rest home concept is about getting together with a group of friends to find a place to live. Once you’ve moved in, you declare yourselves a radical rest home.

She is envisioning a Radical Resthome Association, which is currently a work in progress, to help with setting things up, figuring out resources and connecting with the broader rest home network. There is another group called Baba Housing in Canada that was inspired by the Montreuil babas, which have ambassadors in many cities across the country.

These models give us a glimpse of what is possible. But, as artist activist Ai Wei Wei put it:

“the world is not changing if you don’t shoulder the burden of responsibility”.

In other words, it’s up to us. What would it take to implement these models in Canada? How can we shift our elder care to models that emphasize thriving not just surviving? How can we design systems that empower seniors to be self-reliant and make their own decisions? I guess, South Florida Home Health Care is an improved version.

I didn’t have time to mention these other aging and elder care initiatives but they are also great. You can list your service here:

  • The Amazings: Classes, courses and wisdom from elders with amazing life experience
  • Fureai Kippu: “Caring Relationship Tickets” are based on the time bank concept; allow people to help seniors in their community and earn credits transferable to other cities
  • Tyze: online tool that helps people care for others
  • Merevale House, UK20: small-scale domestic living where people are seen to be living and working together, sharing their community and daily life
  • Carebanks, Timebanks: helps seniors age-in-community irrespective their economic situation
  • Visiting Nurse Service: high-quality health care in the home and the community
  • Lotte House: nursing home where 23 men and women live like a family
  • Aging Studio, HDL: The Studio set out to articulate a new understanding of the ageing population
  • Age Unlimited, NESTA: program developing and trialling new services for 50-60 year olds to continue contributing to society
  • Weavers, InWithFor: Helping people balance caring with the rest of life
  • AgeLab MIT: innovation lab that designs, develops and deploys innovations focused on aging
  • Southwark Circle, Participle: membership-based service supporting +50 year olds to lead the lives they want to lead.

If you’re inspired and want to do something about this topic, let’s talk! Or, you can reach me via email or twitter. Also, I will be adding to the thinkthrice.ca/eldercare page as I go.