A different way of working to get better outcomes, quickly

Explore Assurity 16 May 2017 Ben Hayman

Organising effectively to deliver great end user services in the Digital Age is often a challenge for well-established, complex organisations. It often requires a significant transformation in how people work and how teams collaborate. For government, this is especially true.

That’s why the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) and Assurity have partnered to set up the Service Innovation Lab (SIL) as an experiment, with the aim of seeing what value can be gained by creating an innovation environment with support from coaches to help teams work in new ways. The ultimate prize is to help raise the level of collaboration across agencies in delivering better services to New Zealanders.

Shaped by successful digital cultures

We have modelled the SIL experiment on what we believe is the DNA of successful digital organisational cultures. This means that when you come to the Lab, it feels like:

  • Everyone commits to a set of design principles that shape how we work together (more on this in the next few weeks)

  • Work is done in the open and everyone is located in a collaborative space, set up for multi-disciplinary teams

  • There are a range of coaches available to support teams to get better at delivery

  • Governance groups meet here and get to connect directly with the delivery teams and their work

Setting the baseline level

When teams arrive in the Lab, we help to baseline and then track how they’re getting on. This captures how well they feel they’re operating and what issues the work might be facing right now. We then use this baseline to focus our coaching and support to get the best outcomes for the teams. It’s exciting to be defining and evolving this measurement approach as we think it’s got great potential (more on this soon). Some of the aspects we assess with the team are:

  • Clarity of product/initiative direction

  • Level of sharing and collaboration among the team

  • Value gained from observation of the design principles

  • Frequency and degree of user insights fed into their work

We are also developing a way to measure the value of the Innovation Lab as an approach. Labs like this can be integral to the approach to innovation for existing organisations, private or public sector. It is however only one part in helping existing organisations innovate and we’re working out how this fits alongside accelerators and continuous improvement approaches.

Discovering real transformation

We feel that innovation alongside – but still connected to – an organisation is where some real transformation of mindsets and cultures can be brought about. That’s why we’re excited about SIL as an experiment. The findings should help us find truly sustainable ways to transform how we deliver and refine services for New Zealanders.   

We’re also very proud to share the findings of our SIL work in Wellington. We hold regular Open Lab events for people to come and see for themselves and feel one of the great outcomes from the work is the pooling of lessons from visitors to the Lab.

Making change happen

People often say that we’re all lucky to live and work in New Zealand as it’s possible to get people in a room and get things done. Our nation is small enough to do that and our people are more open to doing so than in many other countries. No-one thinks it’s easy though and we know that as well.

We hope that the Innovation Lab work we’re doing is one part of the solution. We believe it will certainly help move Integrated Service Delivery in government forward at pace here in Aotearoa. We look forward to sharing more about this as we continue the experiment.