The Idea Hub
by | 28 Feb, 2018
The municipality of Skellefteå's site brand is "Make room for ideas". In order for the municipality to succeed in undergoing the transformation necessary to fulfill its welfare mission in new ways, internal structure and culture also need to create that space for ideas.
The project “Idea hub for sustainable social development” is run by Skellefteå and Piteå municipality together, with support from Vinnova since the beginning of 2017. The project aims to develop an innovative culture and structure that includes politicians, employees, managers and in the long-term, also residents. The innovation processes in the idea hub will be an integral part of the municipalities' quality work and at the same time push the digital transformation forward. In both municipalities, there are social services departments that act as pilots.
Skellefteå has since the start of Sweden's first municipal customer service in 2007 been working to shift from operational- to customer perspective with insight and knowledge about what customers demand and create services based on customer needs. Idea hub also gives a focus on service design, structure, management, methods and digital transformation.
In line with this, we have chosen to test a “transformation engine” in the Support and Service departmen, based on the "3 Box Solution", which can be seen as an interplay between full-scale idea management and more traditional operations development. The work model is about finding forms for a more fast-paced management based on visions and strategic goals to constantly renew and optimize the work currently underway, be open to what's going on, and let go of working methods and values that do not lead to the desired future.
Through benchmarking and learning about digitization, and input from completely different organizations than classic municipalities, one can free up creativity about alternative ways of working that can create both higher customer value and lower costs. The model also includes innovation sprints, a way to "fast-pace into the future". In a sprint you can validate a new idea or offer with service design and prototyping for one week, and also test it with a customer without having to build the entire solution.
One of the ideas that emerged in the autumn's sprint was "a digital coach" to allow greater independence for users with mental disabilities, as a complement to traditional support only through staff. The prototype received very positive results in the user tests carried out. Work on continued development is now under way to test work out with a group of users and their support team.
A comment on what benefits / insights the transformation engine can give an organization to prepare for its future mode was: I think it's a model to call in what's important development right now and make sure things happen around them.
During the first year of the project, it has become apparent that service design is a way to go to ensure that the ideas that develop are also in line with customer needs. Early customer involvement can also "fail early" and save time and resources if you're wrong. Our approaches must generally be more mobile and enable rapid testing of relevant ideas in line with the challenges that the business has prioritized to work with.
Work on building the prerequisites for idea generation in general, and more specifically on Support and Service, will continue in 2018. Building and maintaining culture for innovation also requires working methods that strengthen self-leadership.
Or as another employee expresses his primary insights from this autumn's work:
The importance of involving users and those working close to the users. Turning around the organization structure, and reduce hierarchies, management gets partially a new role.
Based on these insights, the Social Administration's focus on three development areas 2018, digital transformation, competence supply and trust-based management and governance, makes a perfect fit.
Author: Gustaf Ulander