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

C/O Matt W Moore

C/O Matt W Moore

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 April 2014.

We are trying something new this month by organizing by theme area. Enjoy!

Behavioural Change/Economics

1. EAST: Four simple ways to apply behavioural insights is a simple framework from the Behavioural Insights Team in UK that evolved as a more accessible model from the MINDSPACE model.

Gist: Behavioural change nudges need to be Easy, Attractive, Social, and Timely.

2. Cass Sunstein — co-author of New York Times Bestseller, “Nudge: Improving Decisions on Health, Wealth, and Happiness,” Harvard law professor, and former Obama administration official — has a new book and new insights: “Why Nudge? The politics of libertarian paternalism.” The book explores how we can responsibly approach guiding people toward more beneficial choices and how the effects of those healthy choices spread through the community.

Scaling

3. Increasing the scale and adoption of population health interventions: experiences and perspectives of policy makers, practitioners, and researchers – an academic paper in Health Research Policy and Systems — talks about some of the barriers to scaling public health interventions: e.g. lack of information on the cost of operating at scale and lack of evidence on how effective local interventions have been in the past. They recommend the co-production of research among policy makers, practitioners, and communities to gather relevant evidence and data for scaling, shifting research energies beyond just the requirements for academic publication.

4. UNDP Eurasia Team’s Milica Begovic Radojevic and Giulio Quaggiotto published their second blog post on their reflections (and the challenges!) of scaling up in international development work. This second post, “The evolving finch fund: Two early insights on scaling and lots of work ahead,” explores their thinking, following a meeting of diverse experts in different areas of scaling, systems, and complexity that took place in NYC a couple weeks ago. “We have to acknowledge that there is still a major language barrier between the various disciplines and that translating multi-disciplinary insights into tangible criteria applicable to the “finch fund” will require a significant amount of honing…”

5. Leading global lab practitioners Jesper Christiensen (MindLab, Denmark), Anna Lochard (La 27e Region, France), and Sarah Schulman (InWithForward, Netherlands) share their latest thinking about their practice in the blog post, “Spread and Scale: What and How.” This time, they used the prompt, “There’s a lot of talk about spread and scale. We think it’s about spreading processes, not scaling products. So what does that mean?” to launch this installation of their debate writing on Sociology & Scale.

6. Stanford Social Innovation Review article, “Transformative Scale: The Future of Growing What Works,” discusses nine strategies to deliver impact at scale. Top tips in the article include: taking an ecosystem approach [2. Recruit (and train) others to deliver the solution; 5. Don’t just build organizations and programs, strengthen a field], addressing the elephant in the room -> innovating the governance structure of public institutions [6. Change public systems; 7. Embrace the need for policy change], and catalyzing culture shift [9. Alter people’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors]. The article also offers practical advice on “the how” of implementing these tips.

Blending Perspectives

7. Maturation of Discourse around Social Entrepreneurship and Wicked Problems: a blog article from Austin Centre for Design (AC4D) emphasizing the weight of consequence and accountability for those taking on wicked problems. Their site also offers a great Design Library that includes guides on ethnography, facilitation, ideation, synthesis, and worksheets.

8. Video4Change Impact Research – a blog post by OpenDocLab Fellow Andrew Lowenthal — provides a nice overview of how video and documentary media have been used in advocacy work, before YouTube and mobile video. He discusses the origins of EngageMedia, the video4change network, and his current work at the Lab that will lead to a toolkit for measuring and communicating the impact of video use by changemakers.

Public Sector Innovation

9. Finalists announced for Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Mayors Challenge: The Mayors Challenge is a competition to inspire cities to generate innovative ideas that solve major challenges, improve city life, and ultimately can spread to other cities. One grand prize winner will receive €5 million for the most creative and transferable idea; four additional cities will be awarded €1 million.  All will be announced in the fall. The finalists’ proposed solutions address some of Europe’s most critical issue areas: youth unemployment, aging populations, civic engagement, economic development, environment and energy concerns, public health and safety, and government efficiency.

10. UK’s Policy Lab announced it will be headed by Andrea Siodmok, formerly an advisor to the Technology Strategy Board at Cornwall Council and the Chief Design Officer at Design Council. Created to bring ‘design thinking’ into government and to create policy with users in mind, the lab presents local governments with a unique opportunity. More information about the announcement via the Design Council blog.

11. Finance Minister Simon Hamilton MLA announced a new Northern Ireland Public Innovation Lab, described as a new Innovation Laboratory to modernise and reform public sector services.

12. New Book, “Well-Being and Beyond: Broadening the Public and Policy Discourse,” aims to broaden the public and policy discourse on the importance of well-being by examining psychological, social, environmental, economic, organizational, institutional, and political determinants of individual well-being. Chapters are written by international thought-leaders, including one by Geoff Mulgan (Nesta). In his chapter, Geoff examines: 1. How governments can influence well-being; and 2. How capitalism influences well-being. He argues that in both cases the aggregate picture tells us less than we might hope; however, the more detailed picture of public programmes and the influences of different aspects of capitalism can be very instructive. The implication is that we need to choose our levels of granularity with care.

13. Book, “In The Persistence of Innovation in Government,” by Sanford Borins, maps the changing landscape of American public sector innovation in the twenty-first century, largely addressing three key questions: 1. Who innovates? 2. When, why, and how do they do it? and 3. What are the persistent obstacles and the proven methods for overcoming them? Probing both the process and the content of innovation in the public sector, Borins identifies major shifts and important continuities and offers a thematic survey of the field’s burgeoning literature, with a particular focus on international comparisons (h/t Giulio Quaggiotto).

14. ITU’s Innovation in the Public Sector page is a jam-packed list of resources for the government innovator. The curated list includes key reports, case studies, books, global indices, articles, and news items written by international social innovation thought-leaders.

Inside Public & Social Innovation Labs

15. Reflections by Lauren Tan from her time at DesignGov: 1. There are different engagement models for design with an organisation; 2. Design thinking is easy to understand, but harder to do; 3. Designers can invent an infinite number of tools and these tools are bespoke; 4. The ambition for design must be carefully executed; 5. I think we achieved what we set out to accomplish (Note: Lauren is also a co-author on the very cool book Design Transitions, which you can order here).

16. Blog post by UK-based social innovation lab FutureGov shares “5 Local Government Lessons Learned,” a reflection piece after a year of working on a lab for the local government of Lewes and Eastborne Borough Council. The Lab served as an innovative space to work with Council and other service providers to develop and test new ideas for improving financial resilience in the area. Top five lessons are: 1. Making time to work collaboratively is really valuable; 2. Combining new perspectives with local knowledge is essential; 3. Target your energy; 4. Create space for ideas; and 5. Don’t underestimate the power of delivery.

17. Must read: InWithForward shares their 21 hunches for 2014 on how to prompt change. The hunches are tagged under the themes: methodology, business model, measurement, and team. Also written by the InWithForward team, this blog post, “Belonging vs. Change,” talks about their recent work with St. Christopher House’s daytime drop-in centre, The Meeting Place. The team spent time with 16 of the 200+ members and uncovered some fascinating insights and deeper questions: Is too much community – too much belonging – a barrier to change?

18. Zaid Hassan was recently in Toronto and continues on his global book tour (is he coming to your town?). Matt Fitzgerald blogged about his takeaways from the training he attended in San Francisco, “A Social Labs Revolution in the Making.” Developmental Evaluation guru Mark Cabaj shared his reflection of Zaid’s book in this article and Toronto’s own Cameron Norman blogged his book reflections here.

19. Christian Bason of MindLab recently gave a talk — “Redesiging Governance: in search of the next public business model” — as part of GovLab’s Ideas Lunch series. The video of the talk is viewable here. Christian also recently wrote an interesting blog post, “Finding the Balance,” about “soft” public sector reform — that is, the bottom up tools such as involvement, support, and facilitation — and the delicate balancing of bottom up (soft) and top down (hard, e.g. regulation, inspection) reform.

Co-Production

20. Excellent 3 minute animation by SPICE explaining the concept and thinking behind co-production. The video makes a strong case for why coproduction is such a powerful approach to delivering better public service outcomes for citizens (particularly the first minute and a half is great!). And, for a local co-production example, make sure to track CAMH’s project, “Service Collaborative Communities” (and follow project coordinator Josina Vink for project updates and general awesomeness).

Tools, Methods, Guides

21. Unicef guide, “Do-It-Yourself Innovation Labs,” is an excellent one-stop-shop platform overflowing with resources for running a lab. The guide includes theoretical definitions and practical how-tos (h/t Lisa Joy Trick and her Graduate Diploma in Social Innovation team).

22. Community-centered design agency Context Partners has published some of their facilitation and convening methods as: the “Experimentation Starter Kit.” This Starter Kit outlines steps you can take to identify and vet new ideas and share experiences and lessons learned.

23. Empathy Map downloadable template (worksheet), from digital engagement firm Tadpull, provides a nice introduction to generating user-centered ideas.

24. Great blog post by Studio [Y] fellow Jamie Arron, with ‘open space’ and ‘unconference’ resources for hosting meaningful conversations.

25. NESTA Guide, “Good Incubation,” charts the rise of social venture incubation with a focus on what can be learned by this burgeoning sector from programmes around the world.

26. Quiz by Nesta, “Innovation Population,” uses a selection of questions from their research on innovation and offers a detailed analysis of segment definitions in their Innovation Population report.

“Is innovation a vital part of our economic future? Or is it just meaningless jargon? The British public falls into five broad categories in their attitudes towards innovation – take our quiz and find out which one you are.”

Launch Pad

27. BC’s social innovation (online) platform: Hubcap. Hubcap is BC’s online social innovation community — a place to share information and make connections with innovators, entrepreneurs, educators, funders, and public policy makers. It is an initiative of BC Partners for Social Impact, a multi-sector partnership of individuals and organizations that is working to build BC’s capacity for social innovation, social finance, and social enterprise.

28. Launch of Cities for People, a lab-like experimental initiative for more resilient, livable cities. The initiative leverages innovation networks across Canada and the US. “Like any ecosystem, a city’s strength and resilience depends on its ability to nurture the full diversity of its inhabitants and give them what they need not just to survive, but thrive.”

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 (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