Christian Bason on Mindlab and professional empathy

This week we were very privileged to host and hear from the very thoughtful and engaging Christian Bason from Mindlab in Denmark. Christian came though Toronto and Ottawa on a Canadian tour and helped us launch our Inspiring Action for Social Impact Series. We couldn’t have a finer person lead us off into a year of stimulating discussion and practical ideation for positive social change. On Monday June 9, Christian Bason spoke to a sold-out audience at the MaRS Discovery District. Thanks to the MaRS Media team you can watch the presentation here.



As mentioned in the video, Christian Bason recently published a book called, Leading Public Sector Innovation: Co-creating for a Better Society. Naturally then, it was in discussions with many Ontario public servants that I think Christian’s Mindlab message held the most sway. Beginning many of his sessions, Christian spoke about the need for professional empathy. In his experience, and I believe in many jurisdictions, the people that enter the public service truly want to have a positive impact on society. There is a pride in the province or country they serve and they want to improve the quality of life for people. However, most government systems are not designed to allow for meaningful interaction with people.  And they are certainly not designed to allow for engagement and co-creation of new ideas and programs with people. Mindlab has developed an approach to public sector design that we can consider replicating to a Canadian context. Below is the slide presentation also shared by Christian which describes the process Mindlab works with;

I believe many of the barriers Mindlab encounters with its public service can be applied here. Universally it appears that risk-aversion and the uncertainty of political terms in office, make innovation within bureaucracy feel like an impossible task. However, Mindlab seems to have found a way forward. Now comes the “doing” part. Armed with these learnings the Ontario and Federal Public Service can start thinking about how to move forward, and we will be there to help them experiment. In my next post, I will discuss more specifically the process that Christian uses from a design perspective. The Moment hosted a great session at the Centre for Social Innovation while Christian was here to discuss more deeply the application of design thinking in public service.

At SiG we are privileged to work with some of the most inspiring Canadian social innovation thinkers and practitioners. From Al Etmanski and Vickie Cammack and their work on the RDSP and TYZE, to the leadership of the McConnell Foundation through Tim Brodhead and Stephen Huddart, the vision and tenacity of MaRS CEO’ Ilse Treunicht and Allyson Hewitt, and the reflection and learning offered by Frances Westley and Cheryl Rose at the University of Waterloo.

Throughout 2011, we will hear from many of our SiG leadership team as part of the Inspiring Action for Social Impact Series. By hearing from and working with a combination of Canadian and international thought and action leaders, we hope to offer you all practical learning experiences that will inform your change-making work. Thanks to Christian, we are off to a great start.

Visit our Series page to keep up to date on past and upcoming events. Register here for our next Series presentation with Ros Tennyson. Ros is the Director of the Partnership Brokering Project and Director, International Business Leaders Forum based in the UK. Ros will join us online for a discussion about The Partnering Initiative, of which she has been a driving force.

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Geraldine Cahill About Geraldine Cahill

Manager, Programs and Partnerships, SiG National

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