Christian Bason of MindLab on public sector innovation


I am at IPAA NSW where I have just given the opening keynote on The Transformation of Government. I will endeavor to blog the event as I go.

Next up is Christian Bason, Director of MindLab, a cross-ministerial institution for innovation in the Danish government, presenting by Telepresence.

MindLab is a government organization that helps Danish government departments to co-create with the public solutions to “wicked problems”. 

Christian began by telling a story. The head chef at Hvidovre Hospital in Denmark was getting frustrated because food was getting thrown out. He went to a well-known chef, who checked into hospital to experience the food for himself. He found that the food wasn’t that nice, there was too much, it was poorly presented, and it was served at given times when people weren’t necessarily hungry.

The result was far more palatable food, presented well, which in fact cost significantly less to produce. The consulting chef also thought it was worth looking at whether the food was healthy. Creating food that was designed from a nutrition perspective ended up significantly reducing the time people spent in hospital. Both of these resulted in a substantial impact on productivity, in terms of the public value created from the resources available.

Christian spoke about a shift from ‘new public management to new public process’. Rather than being prescriptive, governments need to work out processes, to design

Christian, drawing from his recent book Leading Public Sector Innovation: Co-creating For a Better Society describes co-creation as the systematic process of creating new solutions with people, not for them. It has three important characteristics.
* Broader scope of people [citizens and more]
* New mode of knowledge [qualitative, first hand] 
* Different kind of process [design-driven]

‘Design attitude’ is critical, as a way of thinking about how to create processes. Design requires experimenting, understanding how humans work and think, challenging orthodoxies.

Interestingly Christian used the phrase ‘rehearsing the future’, one I often use myself in discussing the benefits of scenario thinking. One way to do that is to run through how service provision which actually work from the perspectives of all those who will touch the process.

He concluded with three principles:
* Going very close up for insight (experience it for yourself)
* Zooming way out for redesign
* From ‘service delivery’ to levering all resources for better outcomes