Establishing, running and closing a public sector innovation lab – a reflection on the DesignGov experiment

[Originally published on the Australian Government Public Sector Innovation Network under a Creative Commons 3.0 BY AU licence]

How do you go about setting up a public sector innovation lab?

Before the end of DesignGov, members of the team considered what some of the main lessons were and we shared many of those through the DesignGov blog.

However, it takes some time to work through all of the insights and experiences to distil what is most important, and to get sufficient distance to be able to take a more objective view.

There has also been ongoing interest from colleagues and counterparts within Australia and from public service groups around the world about the DesignGov experiment and our experiences. So in combination with a detailed pre-history of DesignGov, I have prepared a fuller reflection on establishing, running and closing a public sector innovation lab.

This is a personal reflection, rather than prescription or an official guide. It is filled with personal interpretation and experience, rather than being an academic or objective piece. It is offered as an opportunity to learn from the DesignGov experience as considered by one of the participants.

Public sector innovation labs, while increasing in number and scope, are still relatively new. People more experienced and wiser than me have also written about labs (and the Twitter conversation about it now has its own hasgtag – #psilabs). This reflection piece then should be seen as just one of many contributions to the field.

You can find the somewhat lengthy and detailed piece ‘Establishing, running and closing a public sector innovation lab’ (PDF 255 KB). It may also be useful to read it in parallel with the detailed background to DesignGov, which hopefully illustrates the context in which DesignGov came into being.

The following resources include some of the other articles and papers and resources available on this topic from around the world that may also be of interest and use to those seeking to better understand innovation labs:

(If you are aware of any others please add them in the comments below.)

If you would like to learn more about the DesignGov experiment and the lessons from it, please feel free to get in contact.