Heads of Labs and Teams Workshop report

Earlier this year BizLab hosted the Design Leads workshop, bringing together 50 senior leaders from over 18 innovation labs and teams from across the APS. The objective of the workshop was to consider how the objectives, capabilities, and maturity of the various Innovation labs and teams contribute to the shape of the APS innovation ecosystem. The workshop helped identify the shared challenges and values of the group, culminating into statement of shared long term objective:

Help drive an adaptable and innovation 21st Century government via the application of creative problem solving and users-centric toolkits that ultimately deliver more and better outcomes that create value.

To help achieve this the group mapped their enablers and pain points at each stage of development (kick off, scaling up and future successes) and determined three over-arching themes over these stages that are critical to success:

  • Capability
  • Resourcing
  • Leadership and culture

The impact of these themes varied by development stage, for example; resources and capability are most vital at kick off, while scaling up and future success depend heavily on leadership and culture.

Capability and resourcing is a requirement for the success of any government initiative, and the recent growth of dedicated innovation teams and labs across government signals a tipping point for development of innovation in the APS. However as we’ve noted before, it takes more than a colourful lab space or a series of ideas challenges for the APS to be an exemplar of innovation. It requires long term leadership support, clear strategic objectives, and cultural change.

Strategically, innovation narratives should specify what innovation and design actually means to the APS, with a clear vision of the end game objective and an emphasis that innovation is everyone's job. While innovation initiatives must be linked to core departmental business and goals in organisations, not special projects the BAU line areas do not have the time to work on.  Similarly on the individual level innovation must become part of everyone’s work, not additional to it.

By identifying these pain points the group can help develop future successes through shared resourcing and collaboration. The workshop was hosted in recognition of the duplication of effort occurring across teams. This first stage of identifying shared goals and pain points aims to reduce this redundancy of effort and expedite scale up.

Looking at the broader public sector innovation system the work of the group can help build stronger working links with the Innovation Champions. Also awareness of the importance of innovation can be developed across the PSIN membership through the sharing of project case studies from the group membership.   

The group plans to continue its workshops, tackling shared road-blocks and exploring collaborative opportunities. The workshops will be hosted quarterly, the next event planned in August. The initial workshop report (.pdf 7Mb) is extremely dense in information and is intended to be a reference deck you can dip in and out of depending on your topic of interest.

A special thanks to the organising committee of this event: Cybelle Ledez, Damian Tobin and Lisa Mollard, and thankyou to BizLab members Lynne Goodyer and Jodie McClintock for their work on this report.

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