Tag Archives: FutureGov

7 tools that worked in government innovation

Recently I realised that my image links on old Shift blogposts on this site weren’t working… so I dug up old images to relink them, and re-discovered some useful bits of work that I’d done.

I’m sharing them here. They will be useful to people interested in government innovation labs, service design methods, and encouraging collaborative creative communities inside an organisation.

Shift was an innovation lab in Surrey County Council; it was a joint venture between FutureGov and the council. Now it has taken on a different incarnation, which I’m pleased to hear is going well.

The ideas shared here were very specific to Surrey County Council’s unique circumstances; however, I’ve tried out things that worked in Surrey in different contexts and they still work. It’s my hope that others in government that want to foster grass roots change, or those with the power to suggest an innovation lab be set up, get useful nuggets of insight and inspiration from this work.

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1. The Shift guide. This is how we worked at Shift. It details processes and example projects. It’s a hugely useful read if you’re interested in what government innovation labs can do – there’s quite detailed explanations of how things worked. Continue reading

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Six Months of Shift in Pictures

From October 2013 to April 2014, I worked for FutureGov in Shift, an innovation lab in Surrey County Council. I was a Community Organiser, which I learnt to do on the job.

Being a designer, I frequently changed the space to make it look welcoming: an innovation lab in a council is a new concept so I had to make it seem inviting and not scary for council officers. But my design skills were even more useful in designing the service around how to support change from officers: we envisioned a way of inspiring people, equipping them with skills, and gathering networks, through events, online communications, and informal drop-ins, where I was personally available to help people through their challenges. I loved being creative support for council officers – I felt like I helped a few people flourish and gain motivation to make the changes they wanted to see in their departments.

So here are a few pictures to give you an insight into the details. Enjoy!

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Some of the Shift team in the Shift Team Room. We kept all our organising notes on the wall on the right. Continue reading

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Change

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Today is the last day in my Elder Street Studio. I have had a great year here. It has been a great space to work in – lovely people, great location, and affordable. I was proud to have meetings here.

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I feel grateful, lucky and privileged to have nabbed such a great space even before I formally graduated from my BA. Being here has helped me ‘fake it til I make it’.

I have not been able to find anywhere as affordable that still has wi-fi, secure storage, a microwave and permanent desk space in a location that suits. However – I have a new job lined up, so having a studio space isn’t so necessary at the moment.

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Goodbye, darling studio.

Onwards and upwards…

The new job is with FutureGov. I will be working on the Shift Surrey project. This involves supporting council staff to use design thinking and innovation in their approach to delivering public services. My role is to be ‘the guardian of taking the design and innovation process which is happening inside the space out to the wider organisation… To manage and support a community of internal innovators in Surrey, growing a broadening involvement in Shift. Create a fun and engaging atmosphere, bringing the outside in to the organisation and helping people feel part of a movement for change.

This fits in snugly with my needs from a job and my personality. I want to make positive change through creative means. I like to meet new people and connect them to each other. I prefer to work in a team. I want to communicate useful ideas to wider audiences. Looking at big social issues and finding ways of dealing with them feels worthy and meaningful.

Last night I went to a Daniel Goleman talk (the author of Emotional Intelligence). He said (amongst many other interesting things) that for work to be ‘good’, three important elements are required: you must be good at the skills involved, you must enjoy the work, and the ethics must fit with yours, bringing meaning to the work.

I enjoy varied work that challenges me to learn and adapt. I have been a bit of a work snob in that I have only actively applied for roles that fit with my ethics of addressing our current social issues through proactive change and innovation. I’m glad I stuck it out – the reward is work that is truly ‘good’ for me. In the meantime, I have been working at a theatre bar on and off for the past three years – I enjoy this because I have a great team, a fair manager, and I take on the responsibility to create a celebratory atmosphere every night with my customers. Often I end up learning something from them about their work or where they’re from. I’m glad I didn’t sell my soul to commercial graphics.

I’ve also been kept busy with freelance projects. In the past year I’ve:
Been part of helping the UK Values Alliance come into being
Run a workshop on the future of Healthcare in the Royal Festival Hall
Delivered a lecture and three-part seminar series to Nottingham Trent University design students on Design and Well-Being
Started the Twitter project #sharefailure
Run a workshop on opinions on plastic for a forthcoming publication in Tooting
Curated a Middle Class themed immersive spectacle
Designed bottle labels for a community brewery
Designed a community newsletter
Run numerous Superhero Badge Making workshops

And of course I spent six months with Circle; researching, developing and launching the new Kensington & Chelsea branch.

Overall the year has exceeded my expectations. I didn’t achieve my objective of making my graduation project on well-being into a sustainable enterprise; instead, I found that I need to spend time working in organisations to learn how to make an enterprise sustainable. I am happy with this outcome and I am enjoying the work that this realisation has lead to.

This is my favourite toilet interior. Goodbye studio toilet.
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