Microtainer: lab resources (archive)

SiG Note: This article was originally published on March 17, 2015 on the MaRS Solutions Lab Blog. It has been cross-posted with permission from the author.

Launched August 2013, the Microtainer series was created and curated by Satsuko VanAntwerp of Social Innovation Generation. The MaRS Solutions Lab then took on this legacy to spread information that was interesting, insightful and useful to lab practitioners and the lab-curious. To access the whole archive of Microtainers, please visit the Microtainers series page. It has since all been archived.

Interesting resources that came across our desks in the past 6 weeks (in no particular order):

 

1. Practical illustrated summary of Lab Matters: Challenging the practice of Social Innovation Laboratories

Written by Marlieke Kieboom (Kennisland) in a more illustrated format.

2. Civic Quarterly’s articleCollaboratively Designing Public Services” by Chelsea Mauldin

“Citizens often bear the burden of public services that weren’t designed with their experience in mind. If civic designers are ever going to improve these services, we’ll need to engage both citizens and civil servants alike in their creation.”

Civic Quarterly

c/o Civic Quarterly, Issue 2, Winter 2014

3. The New Yorker’s article “The Shape of Things to Come

A rare in-depth look at Jonathan Ive and his team and “how an industrial designer became Apple’s greatest product”.

4. Devex’s article “Putting evidence into policymaking: RCTs as a tool for decision-making

“In India, the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, a network of researchers who run randomized control trials based at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, is working with the Tamil Nadu government to integrate findings from RCTs into the policymaking design phase — a collaborative approach which evolved from J-PAL’s existing evaluation programs there.”

5. News: “Government’s new innovation ‘Hub’ open to new thinking

“The federal government has opened its long-awaited ‘hub’ of thinkers and policy wonks whose brainstorming could reshape the way policy is made and services are delivered in Canada.”

6. Wired Magazine’s “15 Predictions for Tech and Design in 2015

15 projections from experts in the advancement of design and tech, including edible technology, adaptive education, and health diagnosis with nano particles.

c/o Wired Magazine

c/o Wired Magazine

7. Civic Quarterly’s article “Untangling Complexity: Designing for Shared Understanding” by Jacqueline Wallace

“The next phase of the digital revolution will be defined by products and services that facilitate shared understanding, allowing concerted participation around complex issues. In working to show the way, civic designers will need to call upon the powers of systems research, design research, social science, and open data.”

8. CBC’s news articleHarper government examines game-playing to motivate bureaucrats

“Federal memo says computer games have potential to train public-sector workers, engage citizens. The Privy Council Office, the central organ of government and the prime minister’s own department, now is looking at adopting gamification as it renews the entire federal workforce over the next five years.” ‘Harnessing the Power of Gamification’ was written by Coleen Volk, deputy secretary to the federal cabinet. Volk proposes that game-playing be promoted by a policy think-tank established by the government in mid-February, called the central innovation hub.”

9. News: “Financial Solutions Lab Announces $3 Million Competition to Tackle Consumer Financial Security

“The Financial Solutions Lab at the Center for Financial Services Innovation (CFSI) with founding partner JPMorgan Chase & Co. today announced a $3 million competition for technology innovators working to address consumer financial challenges.”

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Microtainer: lab resources (January 2015)

SiG Note: This article was originally published on January 3, 2015 on the MaRS Solutions Lab Blog. It has been cross-posted with permission from the author.

Launched August 2013, the Microtainer series was created and curated by Satsuko VanAntwerp of Social Innovation Generation. The MaRS Solutions Lab is excited to take on this legacy to spread information that will be interesting, insightful and useful to lab practitioners and the lab-curious. To access the whole archive of Microtainers, please visit the Microtainers series page.

Interesting resources that came across our desks in the month of January 2015 (in no particular order):

 

  1. Nesta’s annual predictions “10 predictions for 2015″ (podcast)

    “This year, we’re predicting that a new online political party will emerge in the UK, there will be new ways to interact with our national museums and galleries, and there will be a surge in young people expressing their creativity using new digital tools.”

  2. Medium blogChile’s new public laboratory and its many waters”

    Read more about Chile’s upcoming new public sector lab, the GobLab.

  3. MindLab’s blog “Design Games That Play”

    “A design game is an effective and inspiring playground, where you can practise before ideas turn into reality. Get good advice and navigate around the most common pitfalls, if you are faced with rethinking or developing new services for your users.

    C/O MindLab

    C/O MindLab

  4. Government Technology’s news article “Google Reveals its Innovation Lab for Government”

    “Google plans to institutionalize innovation through a mobile innovation lab that combines its suite of apps with motivated government innovators.”

  5. Wired Magazine’s article “Serious Games Go Offline: Bringing the Board Game to the Board Room”

    “Instead of e-learning, apps or social media, [companies] use physical simulations inspired by board games to accelerate the organization’s ability to learn and adapt to change.”

    C/O Wired Magazine

    C/O Wired Magazine

  6. Stanford Social Innovation Review’s article “The Dawn of System Leadership”

    “The deep changes necessary to accelerate progress against society’s most intractable problems require a unique type of leader—the system leader, a person who catalyzes collective leadership.”

  7. The Social Labs Fieldbook 

    Download the first section of the Social Labs Fieldbook. “This is a practical and interactive ebook that will guide you in creating and sustaining an effective social lab with passion, precision and purpose.”Social Labs Fieldbook

In case you’ve missed it:

 

  1. The Long + Short’s blog “Hooked on Labs: The experimental life is being created all around us

    “Labs are places where people conduct experiments to test out theories. The new labs proliferating outside the hard sciences are a symptom of the spread of experimentalism as an ideology for how we should shape the future.”

  2. Nesta’s guide “Innovation teams and labs: a practice guide”

    “This practice guide shows what innovation teams and labs do, and provides a practical introduction to establishing and running a new team or lab.”

  3. Deloitte’s Gov 2020 

    Explore trends and drivers for the future of government in year 2020. A resource accumulated by Deloitte.

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

C/O Louise Boye

C/O Louise Boye

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 2014. In no particular order:

1. The final essay of a three part series on the future of independent work: “Fringe Benefits” by Bryan Boyer. In this third installment, Bryan discusses what independent workers have expressed as core needs (effort, flexibility, responsibility, pay, and security), as well as needs that are ripe for innovation (identity, community, professional development, and scaling ones own efforts), trade-offs that independent workers juggle, and questions that he is left pondering. Also see essay one, two, and zero (the prequel), the series is an interesting read for entrepreneurs, freelancers, contractors, consultants… that is, what Bryan terms: independents.

2. Another one related to Bryan: Blog post, “Bryan Boyer: Stories from 5 years at Helsinki Design Lab,” summarizes a GovLab Ideas Lunch session by Bryan, about his work at Sitra and the notion of “dark matter.” (for more on the vocab of strategic design, check out this book by Dan Hill)

3. Streamed half hour conversation with Bruce Katz (author of The Metropolitan Revolution) and Geoff Mulgan (Nesta) and moderated by Alexandra Jones (Centre for Cities), on “How to encourage innovation in city economies.” The trio explore the shifting innovation landscape: revaluing needs and assets; technology fusing with other clusters like education/health etc; countries leading the innovation charge; the role of creativity, etc.

4. Blog post: “We Need New Civic Institutions To Confront The Challenges Of The 21st Century,” by Thomas Neumark, explores the debate around whether to renew declining institutions or to create whole new institutions (as the title suggests, Thomas argues for the latter).

5. Blog post: “Why social entrepreneurship has become a distraction: it is mainstream capitalism that needs to change,” by the very wise Pamela Hartigan, Director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford Said Business School. Some great lines include, “The key to sustainable capitalism is reasonable profits as opposed to maximizing profits…Fortunately, there are a growing number of people, particularly among the young, who embrace the notion of ‘entrepreneurship for society,’ rather than commercial or social entrepreneurship.  They are not waiting until they are 50 years old when they have ‘made their money’ and can ‘give back’.”

6. There is still a strong buzz about the book “Labcraft.” Here is a blog post about the making of the book on La 27e Région’s blog (en français) and Kennisland’s blog (in English). The book can be purchased from the Labcraft website (take a sneak peak of the book here).

7. Book: “Public Innovation through Collaboration and Design,” by Christopher Ansell and Jacob Torfing, with a chapter written by Christian Bason of Mindlab on “design attitude.” The book brings together empirical studies drawn from Europe, the USA and the antipodes to show how collaboration, creative problem-solving and design are important features of public sector innovation in many Western democracies with different conditions and traditions.

8. Article: “Finding a radical solution to a common challenge” explores the merits and potential of the Radical Efficiency model by describing the development of Family Voices — a project that emerged from work done by the Innovation Unit and the Children’s Centres in the Whiston Area of Knowsley (UK). Family Voices enables the Children’s Centres’ staff to achieve their universal mission, tailor delivery to local needs and reach more families, all while creating a measurably better service at a reduced cost. That is a win-win-win-win-win!

9. The DIY (Development Impact & You) Toolkit’s YouTube channel has a collection of thirty social innovation tools in the form of video tutorials. The DIY Toolkit has been specifically designed to arm people working in development with the tools to invent, adopt or adapt ideas that can deliver better development results and outcomes.

10. Nesta released a guide on 18 everyday social innovations — big ideas with positive socio-cultural impacts in the UK & beyond. They are:

  • Kindergarten
  • Cooperatives
  • First Aid
  • Girlguiding
  • Meals On Wheels
  • The National Childbirth Trust
  • Fair Trade
  • The Hospice Movement
  • The Open University
  • The World Wide Web
  • The Big Issue
  • Police Support Volunteers
  • Shared Lives Plus
  • Patients Like Me
  • Avaaz
  • BeatBullying
  • The Pennies Foundation
  • Code Club

11.  A great list (with hyperlinks) of the social innovation labs around the world, as part of next week’s Social iCon conference taking place in Singapore via the Lien School of Social Entrepreneurship. The list covers labs from Afghanistan (UNICEF Afghanistan Innovation Lab) to Zimbabwe (CCore Zimbabwe Lab),  and 40+ social innovation labs across Asia.

12. Great post: “6 Ways To Make Your Work More Effective, From Entrepreneurs Who Want To Change The World” on FastCoExist, by Finance Innovation Lab’s Rachel Sinha and The Point People’s Ella Saltmarshe. The six strategies highlighted are:

  1. Understand the system you are trying to change. But not too much.
  2. Experiment, prototype, test, and be prepared to be wrong. Dive in and act. Experiment. Learn. But don’t do it alone.
  3. Stop and learn. Reflection is essential to systems change.
  4. Don’t go it alone. Get smart about collaboration. If you want to create impact, you will have to collaborate. Full stop.
  5. Create liminal spaces that allow you to move in and out of the system you are trying to change. It can be hard to create radical change from within the status quo and it can be hard to influence a system from outside of it.
  6. Get humble. Become comfortable leading from behind. Don’t make yourself too central to the result. It’s often when you get out the way that the magic happens.

13.  Article: “Hacking democracy – nine interesting GovHack projects” talks about GovHack – one of Australia’s largest hackathons — where teams of programmers and designers compete to come up with novel ways to use government data over the course of a weekend.

14.  Along a similar vein, UK’s FutureGov held a “Design Meets Social Care” Design Camp, which brought together the FutureGov team and 20 up-and-coming young designers for an intensive day of thinking big about the future of adult social care. The blog post contains images, tweets, and some of the provocations (“How would Zappos deliver social care?”) from the event.

15.  Blog post: “Reflections from Accelerate 2014: What does it take to collaborate?” by Saralyn Hodgkin of The Natural Step Canada’s Sustainability Transition Lab, emphasizes the need to collaborate across boundaries as the key to getting things done. Saralyn shares how she will pull this thinking into her work at the Lab; for example, “ask different types of questions, see their efforts within a system, and effectively shift systems to build a thriving society.”

16. Workshop: “Tapping the Power of Networks: Strategies for Innovation and Renewal,” with complexity inspired facilitator-coach-animator Liz Rykert, co-led by network weaving guru June Holley (a huge influence for SiG’s field building two-pager). The workshop introduced the network approach, an approach where everyone is potentially a leader. “Connections and relationships are key to unleashing innovation and amplifying your work to reach more people, more deeply.”

17. Article: “New Community Planning Method Evolves and Deepens Community Engagement” explores a week-long design charrette to build community engagement and consensus for an Official Community Plan in Tumbler Ridge, British Columbia. The process was led by Urban Systems, an progressive engineering firm with a sister social enterprise Urban Matters that is worth checking out.

18. Great (and humble) blog post: “Burnaby Summer Update,” by InWithForward, talks about which of their initial assumptions they got wrong and how they’re re-calibrating their prototypes based on what they learned. This post is helpful in getting a sense of why prototyping is hard and what it requires.

19. Also by InWithForward, an absolute must-read-immediately-if-not-sooner discussion paper, “Grounded Change,” about the next iteration of their approach. This approach dives deep into what the team has found to be the 7 missing links between Social Policy, Social Services, and Outcomes that keep coming up across the many projects they have led and been involved in. The team is also soliciting feedback on the paper, so please do read and respond with your (constructive) critique!

19. Blog post: “Minding the gap: Georgia takes a page from UK’s innovation guidebook” by the Public Service Development Agency of the Ministry of Justice of Georgia (PSDA), talks about their social innovation learning tour to the UK. The tour covered a wide range of organizations from different fields and foci, including government innovation labs, think tanks, and social enterprises. A nice way to take a virtual vacation!

20. From the i-teams blog: MindLab’s Christian Bason writes “Ask citizens and bring order to the chaos of society,”. In this post, Christian describes the value of i-teams (or innovation teams) within government. “…you might consider i-teams as organizations that help to create meaning in chaos by inviting, involving and engaging citizens, policy makers and other stakeholders to find new and more powerful solutions for society. You could say that they institutionalize innovation processes.”. Helpful in finding ways to articulate the value that labs offer~ thanks CB!

21. Adore this project: “The Community Lover’s Guide to the Universe” is a growing collection of stories about amazing people and their innovative projects — people who are actively and creatively nurturing community together and transforming where they live. The website is a wider collection of blog posts and reflective essays on this emergent new community culture. The aim of the Community Lover’s Guide is to surface and share this new community practice widely. How great is that! And, I heard that Zahra Ebrahim of archiTEXT is involved (why am I not surprised?).

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

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

C/O Archivo Diario

C/O Archivo Diario

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 June 2014. In no particular order:

  1. Recognizing that the physical environments we work in affect our levels of creativity and imagination, Nesta is commissioning a study and paper on “Innovative Spaces” that will explore how the design of our work spaces affects innovation (Also on the topic of how to design spaces to encourage creativity: Make Space,” a book by Stanford’s D.School ).
  1. The “Systems Changerswebsite, a project led by The Point People, is full of excellent resources and thought pieces. Of particular interest is their piece on the Character Traits of System Changers, which include: 1. Not being afraid to think big – really big; 2. Comfortable with change and uncertainty – more than that, they embrace it wholeheartedly; 3. Do not have the personal/professional divide that has underpinned industrial models of working life.

  1. Blog post about a seminar — “Redesigning public services: cases, methods, challenges” — that Christian Bason (Director of MindLab in Denmark) conducted in Bilbao, Spain. The author shares his insights and personal takeaways.

  1. Lab to watch: London-based “Civic Systems Lab,” a part incubator/part accelerator working to alleviate & systemically prevent poverty and its many side effects. Led and run by a group of seasoned social innovators, the project launched a set of prototypes that are testing the conditions, tactics, tools and wider platforms needed for supporting civic change and seeding local civic economy (And, they are/were hiring! Applications closed mid-May).

  1. Short write-up, 1-hour video, and slides from the presentation, “New governance models for effective public service delivery in the 21st century,” by MindLab’s Christian Bason to the UNDP’s Knowledge, Innovation & Capacity Group. Christian discusses: the future of governance, emerging governance models, the nuts and bolts of design approaches, and important points on leadership for public managers.

  1. Blog post by Forum for Social Innovation Sweden, “France is modernizing the public sector with design and social innovation,” explores a new program in France — “Réacteur Public” — led by Paris-based social innovation lab, La 27e Région. Over four years (until the end of 2017), the program aims to scale-up methods, processes and approaches that have been developed over six years, in previous projects across the country, with a particular focus on: Education, Community, Future of Public Administration, Publications.

  1. New book Towards a Civic Innovation Lab,” by Delhi-based Centre for Knowledge Societies, is jam-packed with rich content, including: civic innovation case studies from around India; essays on public and social innovation labs by Christian Bason (MindLab) and Giulio Quaggiotto (UN Global Pulse Lab); transcripts of keynote addresses and panel discussions from a public sector design symposium; and other thought pieces on public sector innovation.

  1. Insider scoop on public service design: in the blog post, “Inspiration for Service Design,” Runa Sabroe of Mindlab lays out the process, 10 cases (with lessons learned and hiccups along the way), and top tips from the Danish cross-ministry innovation unit and how it is using service design to improve how citizens and business experience, and interact with, public services.

  1. Crowdsourced google map of the social lab landscape across the globe. The map is still being populated, so please contribute! Zaid Hassan of Reos Partners (and author of the Social Labs Revolution) invites us to add suggestions for any missing public innovation labs and social innovation labs in the comments section.

  1. Blog post by the Knight Foundation’s Carol Coletta about their Civic Studios series: May 12 -14, the Knight Foundation hosted 100 civic innovators at a Civic Innovation in Action Studio in Miami to explore ways to harness talent, advance opportunity, and promote robust engagement.

  1. Blog post by DesignGov’s Alex Roberts — “Innovation and Design Insights – Visit by Christian Bason” — reflects on and pulls out insights from a visit by Christian Bason with Australian public servants (this is a couple of years old, but just came across it and there’s some good stuff in there).

  1. DO NOT MISS: Nesta launched an informative new report — “i-teams” — with a round up of the innovation-teams embedded in (municipal, regional and national) governments around the world. The report includes an overview of 20 public innovation labs across 6 continents, key lessons learned, and how to create a lab in your own city, province, or country. The team will continue to add i-team case studies and news as the project continues.

  1. There is still a lot of buzz from The Labs for Systems Change Conference that took place at MaRS DD in Toronto this May, including: a blog post reflection on some of the big ideas discussed during the day by MaRS Solutions Lab’s Fariha Husain; a video discussion reflection by Delhi-based Centre for Knowledge Societies’ Namrata Mehta and Aditya Dev Sood; a tweet aggregation + reflections/notes by government innovator Meghan Hellstern; a two-part blog post (partie 1 et partie 2, ecrit en français) with video interviews of lab practitioners (videos in English) from La 27e Région’s Stéphane Vincent; and these two reflection memos from Re-public’s Hiroshi Tamura (one and two) in Japanese and some English (日本語と英語で書いています). Also, the live-stream videos are now viewable and downloadable here!

  1. The next international gathering for lab practitioners will take place in Singapore on Oct 7-10, 2014, with a focus on Asia-based labs. Social iCon 2014, hosted by the Lien Centre for Social Innovation, is the Lien Centre’s flagship event, designed to feature thought-provoking developments and best practices in the social innovation space. The gathering will convene a pan-Asian group of social innovation practitioners and intermediaries that are engaging in Social Innovation Labs.

  1. Blog of an interview with Nesta’s Philip Colligan, head of the Nesta Innovation Lab, about why local government is well-placed to solve today’s challenges. Philip talks about the Creative Councils initiative, a program to support local authorities to be more innovative.

  1. Article about how the new Social Service Offices in Singapore utilize Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) tools and focus on enabling public servants and service providers to have more exposure to on-the-ground realities (and assets) within communities. For example, a team of officers from the Kreta Ayer Social Service Office walk through the neighbourhood several times a day, as a way for the officers to learn more about the local residents – and how they could better help them.

  1. New practice guide by Nesta’s Perrie Ballantyne and the Centre for Challenge Prizes about developing competitions or challenge prizes to stimulate idea generation. Also, Deloitte created this useful reportThe Craft of the Incentive Prize Design,” with lessons learned from the US public sector.

  1. And finally, a new report that we at SiG have been drooling all over — “Speaking to the Innovation Population” — by Nesta. The report explores the public’s views on new ideas and technologies and makes recommendations for how policymakers can better communicate with voters on these issues. It is excellent for anyone trying to communicate about innovation and particularly useful for people engaged in public sector innovation.

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

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

C/O Clare Shields

C/O Clare Shields

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 May 2014. In no particular order:

1. A useful framework by Nesta on “Generating convincing evidence of impact.” No matter how intuitive and sensible your idea, or how well it has been received, at some point you will be asked for evidence that it actually makes a positive difference. Generating convincing evidence of your actual or potential impact will strengthen your case for potential investors, but deciding on an impact evaluation approach can be difficult and daunting — there is simply no ‘one size fits all’ approach. Nesta’s recently developed Standards of Evidence might be a helpful place to start.

2. Failure Report (or Lessons Learned report) by McGill University’s Sustainability Department. If there’s one thing McGill doesn’t do, it’s fail. McGill is consistently ranked one of the best universities in the world and “excellence” is an important part of the McGill identity. It is so easy to make the mental shift from “we value excellence” to “we value success” to “we frown on failure.” Equating excellence with perfection, however, discourages risk-taking and stifles innovation and learning.

3. Inspiring pleasure reading: Behavioural Design Lab put together this excellent design x public policy book list (added “Social Physics: How Good Ideas Spread – The Lessons from a New Science” to my wish list!).

4. The US Government Accountability Office evaluates the Lab at OPM (Office of Personnel Management) and provides recommendations. Also, interesting info about the financials of running the OPM lab.

5. Rethinked: Neat blog and year long experiment (rethinked*annex) for us to perform on ourselves. The annex aims to improve our own abilities in design thinking, integrative thinking and positive psychology (good book recommendations too).

6. The Systemic Design Symposium at Oslo School of Architecture and Design (Oct 15-17) will explore emerging contexts for systems perspectives in design. The symposium aims to strengthen the links between these two fields.

7. Mixing abstract philosophical thinking with business school teachings: WSJ article talks about how more and more schools are teaching students that there is more than one right answer. Operating in uncertainty is a reality and there is much to learn from the arts, reading fiction, and meditation.

8. Stanford study finds walking improves creativity. Stanford researchers found that walking boosts creative inspiration. They examined the creativity levels of people while they walked versus while they sat and determined that a person’s creative output increased by an average of 60% when walking. More grounds for the walking meeting!

9. Excellent article in the Financial Times — Big data: are we making a big mistake? Tim Harford explores the limits of big data in this engaging and interesting article: “Big data has arrived, but big insights have not. The challenge now is to solve new problems and gain new answers – without making the same old statistical mistakes on a grander scale than ever.” 

Labcraft! (Image C/O @hendrikjt)

10. Labcraft is a book — co-authored by many of the world’s leading labs — that dives into the latest thinking from their practice. Out in July!

11. Excellent blog post by Cognitive Edge’s Dave Snowden — 7 principles of intervening in complex systems distills Dave’s thinking into just that. Dave is also responsible for the useful Cynefin sense-making framework for operating in complexity (H/T Giulio Quaggiotto).

12. Labs for Systems Change Conference bits, tweet aggregators and feeds: Epilogger, Storify (also, this graphic harvest by livestream participant Scott MacAfee) and this Hackpad thread from the different discussions happening at various tables during the conference.

13. GovLab started an open global lab discussion around: “How Do We Together Become Smarter About How We Make Decisions and Solve Problems.”

14. Neat initiative in Boston: City Hall To Go. Featured in FastCoExist — “This Government On Wheels Brings City Services To The People” — City Hall To Go is a mobile office that travels around Boston, letting citizens interact with their government without having to trek to City Hall. For more Boston-based civic innovation, check out New Urban Mechanics, out of the Mayor of Boston’s office.

15. Great quick read: InWithForward blog post, “New Public Goods,” on reflections and questions following a lab gathering at Parsons New School two weeks ago. Sarah Schulman explores how her own practice relates to questions around “making ‘better’ cities, making ‘better’ public services, making more ‘creative’ public servants, reducing human suffering, and increasing human flourishing.”

16. Great capacity building opportunities for Torontonians via The Moment’s Innovation Academy. The Toronto-based innovation studio now offers trainings in Design Thinking (Fundamentals, Advanced, and Facilitation) and Innovation Culture.

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

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. ReportRestarting 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. PaperThe 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 bookRealizing 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 bookHappy 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 paperRethinking 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

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, PlaythinkDScribe. 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 bookPublic 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. ReportWhen 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