The Innovation Laboratory’s work is based on design thinking – focused concentration on the needs of the client, making the best-suited solution for the user or constantly “stepping into the user or client’s shoes.” In addition to a design thinking philosophy and methodology, the Innovation Laboratory uses dynamic development (Agile) or the principles of an iterative approach – solutions are not created trying to solve everything at once, but gradually. One also follows LEAN principles, thinks in terms of continuous improvement and the elimination of unnecessary work.
Primarily, the Laboratory wants to promote co-creation and teamwork in public administration, which is necessary for solving various interdisciplinary problems. Within the framework of the first project, practical methodological material – the guidelines “Innovative process for reducing the administrative burden” which compiles the both the methods and tools used in the work of the Innovation Laboratory (Chapter 2 in the materials) as well as an insight into how to create an innovation laboratory in the public sector (Chapter 3).
The Laboratory’s work methodology is based on the Double Diamond, a design process model developed by the British Design Council and which has been widely used in the world since 2005 for ensuring design thinking processes in various disciplines.
In accordance with the Double Diamond model, the design thinking process is divided into two “diamonds”.
The first is dedicated to finding “the right problem”, the second – to solving it in “the right” way. The Double Diamond is created by visualizing how in both stages divergent thinking (expanding the field of view) must be used at the start, then convergent thinking (narrowing one’s thoughts, focusing). More can be read about this here.
The Innovation Laboratory works in “sprints” or implements fixed-term projects whose task is to solve specific challenges or problem situations, involving participants both from various institutions of public administration as well as experts from other sectors. As the concept of the laboratories strengthens, participants in the innovation laboratories change regularly, depending on the themes and issues to be dealt with. All laboratory participants take part in workshops and do homework, which is related to problem finding, research, solution seeking and testing, voluntarily and in addition to their day-to-day work.
In 2019, there were 11 “sprints” or around 50 co-creating sessions in which more than 150 participated (in various roles). As a result of co-creation, 16 prototypes or solution designs were developed that were tested in the laboratory and which had potential to be implemented in a real environment in the form of a pilot project. For example, one prototype that became well-known and was met with approval was the activity “An official shadows an entrepreneur” that was organized by the Ministry of Economics. Two other “sprints” also got recognition – the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Welfare, during which both ministries were given methodological support.