Nesta and Design Council partner with States of Change to lead innovation learning programme for UK civil servants

A UK learning programme to help civil servants become better at problem solving and innovation in their everyday work has been launched by a new partnership between States of Change, Nesta and Design Council.

Initiated in 2017 by Nesta, and now running as an independent not-for-profit organisation, States of Change is a global learning network that brings together the world’s best public innovation practitioners and experts. As local and central governments around the world face complex problems that need new approaches, States of Change’s aim is to enhance the quality, coherence and reach of public innovation learning, and to ultimately improve lives for citizens everywhere. Its partnership with Nesta and with Design Council, recognised for its extensive track record using design to tackle major social, economic and environmental challenges, will help build on the success of States of Change’s highly renowned learning programmes in Australia, New Zealand, Colombia and Canada.

The UK programme will run between February and July 2020. Over that time, teams of civil servants from the Scottish and Welsh Governments and Ofcom will bring real life projects to the programme and learn how to:

  • recognise how biases and assumptions impact their work and identify ways to challenge this
  • take a range of different perspectives to unpick their challenges in new ways
  • engage and work with citizens, and gather data from citizens about the nature of their challenge
  • develop, test and iterate opportunities to learn what works and what doesn’t
  • create the space as a team to reflect and learn together
  • apply innovation tools and techniques to their everyday work
  • effectively communicate insights, ideas and ambitions with other stakeholders
  • manage innovation projects within more traditional institutions

The programme will combine monthly intensive training ‘sprints’ with in-practice project work and mentoring. Participants will be guided by an experienced faculty team with first-hand experience of innovating in the public sector: Brenton Caffin, Executive Director of States of Change, Nat Hunter, Design Council Associate, and Cat Drew, Design Council’s Chief Design Officer.

Guest faculty from States of Change’s wider faculty group will also be invited in to share their expertise on topics such as systems thinking or futures, depending on the needs of the teams.

The project themes are ‘fair work’ and the ‘wellbeing economy’ for the Scottish teams, social housing for the Welsh Government and ‘new communications’ for Ofcom.

Brenton, Executive Director of States of Change, said: “Harnessing our collective knowledge is key to building a richer picture of what works when innovating in government. This is why we believe bringing Design Council into the partnership with Nesta and States of Change is of huge value to this learning programme, as it exposes our participants to a wider range of experiences of actually doing this stuff in practice. Design Council has extensive experience of supporting governments to respond to challenges and build their capabilities, and together we’ll guide participants through their learning journey.”

Cat Drew, Chief Design Officer for Design Council said: ”Design Council has an excellent track record in helping public sector organisations think innovatively about solving some of the complex social, economic and environmental issues of our time. Through the power of design, we’ve been able to support local authorities tackle a whole host of issues, from tackling drug use and homelessness to reducing loneliness among older people, from helping people overcome debt to breathing life back into towns hit by loss of industry. I’m delighted to be joining forces with colleagues at States of Change and Nesta to deliver their first ever UK learning programme. I look forward to our sharing expertise and knowledge, as we help organisations identify, shape and deliver high quality services which best meet people’s needs.”

You can keep up to date with the programme and see the teams in action on Twitter - @States_Change and @designcouncil.

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