Helping the APS get innovation(ish)

Is it more important to be right, or to have a go? Researchers from Stanford’s D.School have a surprising answer.
Post-it notes says Innovation(ish) = Mindsets + Moves

Innovation(ish) is all about mindsets and moves

Which is more important – being right, or having a go? Which is more helpful – being part of a specialised team, or being willing to try something new?

Is it better to be strict about innovation, or to be innovation(ish)?

Tessa Forshaw and Rich Braden, Lecturers at Stanford’s, flew from the US to help a room full of Australian public servants answer these questions. (Spoiler: they reckon it’s best to have a go, try something new, be innovation-ish).

Tessa and Rich have been developing a body of work that uses ‘official’ (scare quotes intended) innovation methods, and doesn’t make a big fuss about it. This move mirrors D.School’s own abandonment of their ‘official’ design process. Tessa pointed out that as soon as they published the process, researchers found people used it to exclude others and tell them they were doing it wrong.

Innovation became something that only people with designer glasses and hipster shoes were allowed to do.

Tessa and Rich’s innovation(ish) approach lowers the barrier to entry and expands access to useful, helpful, design tools.

As Rich said “You do the innovation things, but you don’t say you’re doing the innovation things”.

Innovation(ish) method

The innovation(ish) method breaks things down into mindsets and moves.  

The mindsets are:

  • interaction (get out of the office, discover real human needs)
  • insight (identifying surprises, tensions, contradictions, challenges and pain points)
  • ideation (generating hundreds of wild ideas, prioritising them, and sharing them)
  • iteration (building and testing ideas to learn about and evolve them)
  • inspiration (telling stories, getting buy-in and testing viability with real people)
  • implementation (considering the feasibility of deploying ideas in the real world)

The moves are any and all design/innovation/other tool and technique that will help you take an idea and turn it into an action.

Tessa and Rich are working on publishing more about their approach.

See also

The Public Sector Innovation Network (PSIN) was an Australian government network helping public servants understand and apply innovation in their daily work. PSIN ceased on 8 January 2021.

See more PSIN resources or read about PSIN on the National Library of Australia Trove archive.