Involvement that works “It’s the first time I’ve come across someone who was taking the slightest interest in what’s happening out here in the real world.” Transport company employee interviewed by MindLab.
Is venturing out to the arena in which citizens live and businesses operate worth the effort? Doesn’t this require too many resources, and doesn’t getting up close to citizens and businesses generate unrealistically high expectations of what government can do for them? Our experience at MindLab is that a deep understanding of how and in what context people live their lives is a prerequisite for the creation of new public policies and services that work. MindLab is a cross-ministerial innovation unit which involves citizens and businesses in creating new solutions for society. We are also a physical space – a neutral zone for inspiring creativity, innovation and collaboration. We help our colleagues generate new ideas and concepts. We work with the civil servants in our three parent ministries: the Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs, the Ministry of Taxation and the Ministry of Employment. These three ministries cover broad policy areas that affect the daily lives of virtually all Danes. Entrepreneurship, climate change, digital self-service, citizen’s rights, employment services and workplace safety are some of the areas they address. MindLab is instrumental in helping the ministry’s key decision-makers and employees view their efforts from the outside-in, to see them from a citizen’s perspective. We use this approach as a platform for co-creating better ideas.
Why do we need innovation? Now more than ever, Danish society needs ideas that will yield results. Ideas that challenge conventional wisdom and produce a degree of discomfort are often those that help shape the future. This is where fresh thinking – or innovation – enters the picture. Sustainable growth, increased employment and balanced budgets; rising expectations from citizens and businesses; demographic changes – these are some of the complex challenges the Danish welfare state is facing. But how do you place the citizen at the heart of joined-up government? How do you develop innovative programmes and interventions that make sense to business? And how do you foster effective collaboration between ministries, regions, municipalities, the private sector, voluntary organizations and the public in such a way that we will achieve the results we are seeking? MindLab believes that a good concept for a new public policy solution is one that will ultimately make a positive difference to citizens or companies. Our involvement of both citizens and businesses in public-sector innovation processes therefore has two purposes. First, we gather qualitative knowledge about their daily reality to see the public sector from their perspective. Second, we test whether the solutions we have developed in collaboration with our colleagues will also work for citizens in practice.
Creativity depends on diversity Creative, surprising and useful innovation requires diversity. We have chosen to focus on a trans-disciplinary emphasis in MindLab’s employee mix. Collectively we possess expertise in the following three skill sets:
Qualitative research. Anthropology, ethnology and sociology are disciplines that focus on harvesting deep practical insight in human culture and life. Ethnographic interviews, observation and cultural probing are among the tools we use to better understand the public sector from the citizens’ point of view. Design thinking. Designers are adept at challenging the established order, overcoming obstacles and creating new ideas and concepts. Our work pro cess is based on the philosophy and working methods of designers, and builds on principles such as visualization, prototyping, iteration and cocreation. Public administration. Understanding the organization, management and culture of the public sector is fundamental to MindLab’s ability to connect effectively with colleagues in our parent ministries, and to contribute to solutions that can be applied in practice in a public sector context. MindLab collaborates in project teams that include our colleagues in our three parent ministries. This means that our projects also encompass numerous other professional disciplines and skills.
Mission and strategy
Mission and strategy MindLab's mission is to involve citizens and businesses in developing new public solutions. We have five strategic objectives: 1. Innovation
Development of new and proven public solutions that give individuals and businesses a better experience of public services and produce the desired outcomes.
Better use of public resources because the new solutions are appropriately targeted.
Transformation of the ministries’ culture and practices so that they involve citizens and businesses more extensively, and so that cooperation across the public sector is increased.
Development and sharing of experience and new knowledge that encourage innovation in both the public and the private sector.
Communicating MindLab’s work and how our parent ministries experiment with new methodologies and forms of cooperation.
A stage for collaboration You sense it instinctively when you enter MindLab. The physical surroundings are an invitation to engage in the creative process. Ever since the in vention by artistic duo Bosch & Fjord of MindLab’s familiar egg concept in 2001, and its further development via the 2007 collaboration between the architectural firm NORD and designers All the Way to Paris, MindLab has been an inspirational window to the workplace of tomorrow. MindLab’s workspace is a flexible stage for creative collaboration. Walls, tables, bookcases, desks and chairs are in neutral colours. Tables, chairs, bookcases and other items are all mounted on wheels, and just like props they can easily be moved around and reconfigured. Curtains can be drawn across the room as a light and flexible divider. The space comprises several zones. The Mind is the characteristic eggshaped space lined on the inside with whiteboards. The Workshop Zone is the largest section, and is where most of MindLab’s workshops take place. Its lighting system makes it possible to illuminate the workshop area with just the right colour to create a mood that matches the activity taking place. The library consists of mobile shelving that contains MindLab’s literature, plus a high table that is used for meetings, lunches and informal gatherings. The remainder of MindLab’s space consists of 15 modern workstations.
Knowledge sharing and research MindLab buzzes with activity when we share cases, conduct seminars and conferences, organise networks, host study visits, or conduct training in innovation and user involvement. MindLab plays an active role in collecting and disseminating both Danish and international experiences with the involvement of citizens and bus inesses in developing new public policy solutions. We do this through dia logue and practical cooperation with our national and international networks in academia, private companies and public organizations. The employees most central to MindLab’s development of new knowledge are three Ph.D. students, all of whom are researching new approaches to public sector reform. The Ph.D. students have links both to Danish aca demia and to leading foreign universities. Their work is undertaken in close cooperation with MindLab’s three parent ministries.
scoping & project design
learning about the users
Process model Qualitative research, design thinking and public adminstration are the starting points for MindLab’s methodology. Our advice and contributions to the ministries' projects follow MindLab’s process model for citizen-centered innovation. The model consists of seven phases. In some projects MindLab contributes to selected phases, while in other projects we are involved throughout. You can read more about the methodology we use in the individual phases at www.mind-lab.dk or on MindLab’s method cards.
idea & concept
test of new concepts
communication of results
BeskĂŚftigelsesministeriet Ministry of Employment
Ministry of Taxation
Skatteministeriet Ministry of Economic and xxx xxx Business Affairs
MindLab operates across ministries, having been established as a cooperation between the Ministry of Employment, the Ministry of Taxation and the Ministry of Economic and Business Affairs. In other words, it covers areas that together affect the daily lives of nearly all of Denmarkâ€™s citizens.
Who can use MindLab? Employees from the Ministries of Economic and Business Affairs, Taxation and Employment can freely use MindLab. Other ministries and organizations that are project partners with one of our three parent ministries can also collaborate with MindLab. It is not necessary to have previous experi ence with citizen involvement in a development project in order to use MindLab. There are several ways to work with us. MindLab can operate as a formal project partner contributing with methodologies and activities for involving individuals and businesses in the development of new public policy and service solutions. We can also play the role of a more informal advisor, assisting with project design, choice of methodology, feedback on interview tools etc.
Ways to use MindLab: As a partner in projects seeking to involve citizens or businesses across mini sterial boundaries. As an advisor and source of inspiration during project start-up, or when a project is already under way. For skills development by participating in MindLab’s ‘Innovation and user invol vement’ course for project managers, which is held several times annually. As presenters on themes such as innovation, methodology, trends, and the future challenges of the public sector. For exchange of experiences and networking via MindLab’s cross-ministerial project manager network, which convenes 3–4 times a year.
MindLab Slotsholmsgade 12 1216 Copenhagen K Denmark +45 3392 3144 email@example.com www.mind-lab.dk
Content and editing: Runa Sabroe and Christian Bason MindLab Design: All the Way to Paris Photos: Anne Mie Dreves MindLab Copies: 300 Paper: Munken Polar 130g. / 300 g. Printing: Holmbergs, MalmĂś ÂŠ MindLab 2009