Four months in: A retro on our Design and Innovation Board

Last week we held the April meeting of our Design and Innovation Board. As you can read in a previous blog, the Board is a space for individuals and teams across the Council to share ideas and examples of innovative and entrepreneurial work that they’re doing to deliver better outcomes for our residents.

After interesting presentations on how the Council might improve two-way communication with young people in the borough, helping children using social care services to prepare for adulthood, and reviewing the ideas from our latest Innovation Event, we took some time to reflect on how we’re doing as a Board so far.

What’s going well

It’s great to see so many ideas coming forward to the Board, from all corners of the Council. We’ve never been short of agenda items and everyone who’s come along has enthused the Board with their passion and desire to do something different.

At the meetings, the multi-disciplinary team of experts from across service areas that make up the Board have all contributed, and there’s been a really positive atmosphere – it’s genuinely a meeting that people look forward to attending.

We put a lot of effort in upfront to thinking about how we wanted to Board to run and feel, and collectively articulated this in our Innovation Principles and house rules that we designed at the first session. Reflecting further down the line, these ideas still stand up and feel like the right drivers.

The sticky issues

As many would probably have expected to be the case, having the ideas is in some ways the easy part; it’s delivering and implementing them that is the real work. As we’re taking projects forward it’s becoming clear how important it is to get buy in and involvement from the right people early on.

The pace that we’re developing projects at also feels like a fine balance. While we want to drive forward good ideas as quickly as possible, the services who are delivering them weren’t exactly twiddling their thumbs before, so making sure this ‘extra’ work doesn’t become overwhelming but balances with other priorities is really important.

We also want to make sure we go beyond our Innovation Principles just being words on a page to something we really live and hold ourselves to, both in and out of the monthly Board meetings.

Going forward

We’ve set ourselves some challenges that we think will help us iterate and work more effectively over the next few months.

Firstly – and simply enough – we’re going to visibly display our Innovation Principles at every meeting. This means the Board and guests at the meeting can constantly re-set themselves to embody them, and gently hold each other to account if we need to.

We also want to bring in more of the Board member’s experience and expertise as the projects move through discovery into delivery. Hopefully this will give some extra resources and support to service areas as well as giving Board members a chance to get into some detail not just concepts.

And finally, we want to share what’s happening in the Board more widely so that they key stakeholders can get involved early and people with an interest or expertise that would help will be able to come forward sooner. As well as blogs like this, we’ll be sharing more in internal communications and meeting with senior managers to explain the work so far, our plans for the next iteration and how they can get involved.