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Sketchnote from Towards a Unified Theory of Shiny New Things

Shiny and new — why are these still words for government innovation?

Posted on by Stephen Collins in Posts | 6 Comments

Last Fri­day, I attended Design­Gov’s event Towards a Uni­fied The­ory of Shiny New Things, largely as a catch-​​​​up on where open gov­ern­ment, design think­ing and gov­ern­ment inno­va­tion are at in the Aus­tralian Pub­lic Ser­vice. I’ve been busy with pri­vate sec­tor clients of late, and I was feel­ing a lit­tle rusty. I was hop­ing for some fresh ideas, evi­dence of sub­stan­tial activ­ity, an evo­lu­tion of atti­tude towards gov­ern­ment inno­va­tion, and some matu­rity around per­cep­tions towards design think­ing. Tak­ing the glass half-​​​​full per­spec­tive, I’ve got to say I was delighted to see a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of new faces among the 70 or so peo­ple there. Nat­u­rally, there were a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of the old hands in the room as well, and that’s as it should be; you want a mix of expe­ri­ence and those for whom these ideas are new at any event, else you risk becom­ing an echo cham­ber. Help­ing the newer …


A thousand nos for every yes — the essence of design

Posted on by Stephen Collins in Posts | 1 Comment

Apple’s keynote pre-​​​​roll from the 2013 WWDC. The lan­guage in this video speaks pow­er­fully to the designer in me. If design isn’t to appeal to people’s hearts as well as their heads, if we’re not design­ing to make a dif­fer­ence in the world, and if we’re not design­ing to cre­ate some­thing good, then what the hell are we design­ing for?

Innovation by hyoin min on Flickr

GovCamp 2013 — Where and how does government innovation happen?

Posted on by Nathanael Boehm in Posts | 2 Comments

At Gov­Camp Aus­tralia 2013 this week, there were two iden­ti­fi­able two groups of peo­ple who pre­sented and talked about the top­ics of inspir­ing gov­ern­ment inno­va­tion, empow­er­ing peo­ple and lib­er­at­ing capa­bil­ity. There were the ser­vice design­ers who spoke about the specifics of design and pre­sented case stud­ies, and the man­agers, pub­lic ser­vants and aca­d­e­mics who talked about inno­va­tion (in the abstract). How impor­tant is design to inno­va­tion? As a designer myself I strongly believe in the util­ity of design think­ing and I wish the meth­ods and tech­niques I use on a daily basis were part of the stan­dard toolkit for those in gov­ern­ment respon­si­ble for pol­icy design and ser­vice deliv­ery. But I fear that too much empha­sis is being put on design when we talk about inno­va­tion in gov­ern­ment and that there are other dis­ci­plines that should be rep­re­sented. The other issue is that no one can actu­ally pin down what …

Marshmallow challenge at Pollenizer

Core questions for service design

Posted on by Stephen Collins in Posts | 3 Comments

As a ser­vice designer, I’ve been involved in build­ing the way a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of pro­grams, prod­ucts and tools hang together. And, as some­one who works rel­a­tively often with gov­ern­ment, where many agen­cies, poli­cies, reg­u­la­tion and in the end, peo­ple, need to come together to make some­thing hap­pen, I’m usu­ally called upon to deal with com­plex issues. It often the case that the peo­ple I’m deal­ing when design­ing ser­vices, par­tic­u­larly, just don’t know where to start. It all looks too hard. Over time, I’ve devel­oped a set of ques­tions I use to help me under­stand what’s hap­pen­ing (ver­sus why it’s hap­pen­ing) as I go through a dis­cov­ery process when doing ser­vice design work. These ques­tions are focussed on activ­i­ties rather than val­ues, moti­va­tion or what some­one wants to achieve (the why ques­tions). Those value-​​​​based ques­tions are a whole other part (though not sep­a­rate from this part) of the design process. I’ll post about …

Billy Bragg, Speakers' Corner, London, 7 February 2010 by ed_needs_a_bicycle, on Flickr

More “not invented here” — on design thinking and Australia

Posted on by Stephen Collins in Posts | 2 Comments

When I was on my recent trip to Japan and Korea, I came across an arti­cle in the Finan­cial Times describ­ing Australia’s ret­i­cence in adopt­ing design think­ing in busi­ness. The arti­cle itself is a high-​​​​level sum­mary of research done at MGSM by Dr Lars Groeger and Leanne Sobel. It’s a lit­tle chill­ing when you read things like: “The results demon­strate that busi­nesses in [Aus­tralia] are often unaware of how design think­ing can help with inno­va­tion. The study also revealed that even when busi­nesses are aware of the poten­tial ben­e­fits of design think­ing, they strug­gle to recruit appro­pri­ately skilled staff in Aus­tralia.” I’m not at all sur­prised by the first sen­tence, but I’m sin­gu­larly irri­tated by the sec­ond. Let’s leave aside the mat­ter of Aus­tralian busi­ness not yet under­stand­ing what ben­e­fits design think­ing can bring, as it’s addressed in the paper, and, well, we could talk about it for­ever. How­ever, let’s look directly …

Stephen Collins (Credit: The Canberra Times, Daniel Spellman)

Stephen Collins — a philosophy of passion

Posted on by Stephen Collins in Posts | Comments Off on Stephen Collins — a philosophy of passion

It’s a bit about self-​​​​indulgent, but yes­ter­day, The Can­berra Times ran a fea­ture on acid­labs’ founder, Stephen Collins, touch­ing on his work, his pas­sions and the cre­ation of TEDx­Can­berra. It par­tic­u­larly looks at Stephen’s low-​​​​key, empow­er­ing style of lead­er­ship; it’s an unusual approach in a world full of ducks-​​​​in-​​​​a-​​​​row deliv­ery man­agers. If you’d like to get a lit­tle deeper inside the mind of one of Canberra’s big ideas peo­ple, you should read the article.

Galen Hooks at TED 2010

Galen Hooks of LXD on dancing at TED

Posted on by Stephen Collins in Posts | Comments Off on Galen Hooks of LXD on dancing at TED

Cre­ativ­ity, inno­va­tion and inspi­ra­tion comes in many forms. It doesn’t require a sci­en­tist or an inven­tor or an ethi­cist. Some­time, the sheer plea­sure of being present to the thing you love doing most makes for the most tran­scen­dent of moments. Here, Galen Hooks of The LXD, one of my favorite dance crews, speaks of danc­ing at TED 2010. She’s obvi­ously deeply moved, even a year after the expe­ri­ence. She under­stands the power of the thing she does and how it can affect peo­ple. Watch. Enjoy.

Looking at things differently

Creative work can be measured! Just not like that

Posted on by Nathanael Boehm in Posts | Comments Off on Creative work can be measured! Just not like that

Orig­i­nally pub­lished on pure​caf​feine​.com, this is the first ever guest post on acid­labs. Writ­ten by long­time acid­labs friend, Nathanael Boehm, it’s a fan­tas­tic reflec­tion on cre­ative and knowl­edge work and mea­sur­ing its value. From time to time, with acid­labs’ focus shift for 2012, we’ll be pub­lish­ing inter­est­ing con­tent from guest writ­ers. The other day I was reflect­ing on pre­vi­ous employ­ment expe­ri­ences and dur­ing that reflec­tion I let loose on Twit­ter with some rather harshly-​​​​worded crit­i­cisms. I stand by those state­ments but I did feel to expand upon the topic and incor­po­rate into it a ques­tion that was posed to me in a job inter­view recently “Describe the qual­i­ties of your ideal man­ager”. I want to be clear and say that I do not believe cre­ative work­ers should be treated like pri­madon­nas. I do not believe that cre­ative work­ers should be afforded any more rights or free­doms than other work­ers. I …

Screaming girl

Insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a different result — the Hoyts cinemas customer experience

Posted on by Stephen Collins in Posts | 14 Comments

In an inter­est­ing con­flu­ence of cir­cum­stances, I responded to a bat­tle cry for change in busi­ness and an expe­ri­ence of fail­ure to change and the result­ing poor cus­tomer expe­ri­ence. Ear­lier, busi­ness thinker, Tom Peters posted this tweet: For those going back to work Mon­day: P-​​​​L-​​​​E-​​​​A-​​​​S-​​​​E .… do some-​​​​one-​​​​thing out of the ordinary. — Tom Peters (@tom_peters) Jan­u­ary 2, 2012 To which I responded: Or we wash-​​​​rinse-​​​​repeat-​​​​fail -> RT @tom_​peters: For those going back to work Mon­day: P-​​​​L-​​​​E-​​​​A-​​​​S-​​​​E .… do some-​​​​one-​​​​thing out of the ordinary. — Stephen Collins (@trib) Jan­u­ary 2, 2012 Today, many organ­i­sa­tions need to dra­mat­i­cally change the way they func­tion in order to pro­vide a truly bet­ter cus­tomer expe­ri­ence, in the sense out­lined by another of the busi­ness thinkers I respect, Umair Haque, in his book Bet­ter­ness (and its pre­de­ces­sor, The New Cap­i­tal­ist Man­i­festo). Later in the day, to avoid the 35-​​​​degree heat, I went to the cin­ema with my wife, …