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Created by the Public Governance Directorate

This website was created by the OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI), part of the OECD Public Governance Directorate (GOV).

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BizLab Academy and Alumni program

We created the BizLab, Human Centred Design (HCD) Training Academy to develop skills public servants will need for the future and create a citizen-centred culture in the Australian Public Service.

This is not just another training course.

We not only train participants in HCD tools and techniques, but we make that learning stick with our unique Alumni support system

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Citizen expectations of government services are at an all-time high, and yet citizen trust of governments and institutions are declining.

In order to rebuild trust in government and serve our citizens better, we need to understand our clients what they need from Government and how they interact with our services.

The team at BizLab, within Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, work with different parts of the department to solve wicked problems for the community. In particular we help our colleagues understand barriers that businesses and citizens face when dealing with government.

We employ human centred research, creative thinking and rigorous project management to the work that we do.

While we had been successful in meeting our team’s goal of ‘building the capability of others’ while conducting these projects, we realized that to increase our impact it was imperative to extend our reach beyond the 4 or 5 people who worked with us on projects.

Further to this, we realised that the Human Centred Design (HCD) techniques we use are applicable beyond the scope of this one department’s remit.

To expand our reach and impact we developed the BizLab Training Academy to teach public servants design thinking and the tools and techniques used in Human Centred Design (HCD).

We then back this learning up with ongoing support in our Alumni program, to help people actually use what they learnt in their day-to-day work.

The creators and facilitators of our flagship course are design practitioners that knew that embedding these techniques into everyday work takes practice.

At the outset we wanted to provide an environment where our course alumni had the confidence to apply their learnings and encourage their colleagues to also give it a go.

We have branded this, the ‘multiplier model’. This concept means that we will support people who do our course to spread the word to others and they, in turn, will try some of the techniques; get a better outcome; and continue to work in that way.

Our Alumni support and multiplier model provides a multi-channel communication approach that caters for different engagement preferences
We offer:
Digital support
• Twitter feed and ‘chatroom’ where we share messages about methods and mindsets.
• A newsletter to provide updates and information on upcoming events and activities.
• Collaboration site to share documents and other resources.
Face-to-Face support
• One-on-one mentoring that provides alumni with the confidence to practice their new skills in a timeframe that suits them.
• Network support: making connections between people within the same agency who have completed the course so they can set up their own ‘home’ network and have local support.
• Deep dives and invites special events. Ongoing learning exclusively for our alumni. We provide a series of ongoing learning opportunities to cover techniques and tools that we don’t have time for in the 3 day 1.01 course. This might be a deep dive into journey mapping or a workshop to hear how Standford’s d.school approaches innovation.
Other support
• Tip cards are given to participants as they finish the course. This printed resource acts as a physical reminder of the tools they learned, and provide them a series of templates that we use during the HCD process.
• Train-the-trainer program where we train experienced designers to deliver the Academy training in their own agency. We provide all of the content and resources that we use, allow them to adapt and modify it so that it makes sense in their own agency and supports them to deliver the training as required.

We are well on the way to achieve our vision of embedding a citizen-centred culture within the Australian Public Service.

Innovation Description

What Makes Your Project Innovative?

The support we provide our participants after our training course is what sets us apart from other training and makes this program innovative..

We’ve all been to training courses where we’ve walked away with a lot of good intentions to do things differently, only to find we fall back into our old habits when we return to our desks. By staying in touch with our Alumni and providing support when and how they need it, we have seen that they are using their HCD skills in a variety of ways and making an impact.

We have had alumni:
• facilitate workshops to better understand problems;
• hold conversations with their colleagues to ensure clarity about their primary and secondary stakeholder;
• create journey maps to better understand their clients’ experiences with their services;
• interview users to understand their barriers and pain points; and
• conduct projects end-to-end using HCD techniques.

What is the current status of your innovation?

We have delivered training to over 500 public servants since launching in May 2018. The trainers we have trained, have adapted the content and format to their own agencies and have in turn trained an additional 2,100 staff. Each time we run the training, we seek feedback, review the session and iterate the content as required.

Our main success measurement is that we no longer need to advertise new training dates. Word is spreading and we are regularly booked out 2-3 months in advance.

We have a number of Alumni success stories where they have applied their new skills with great success and we often received feedback that “this is the best training course I have ever been on”.

Our future plans include an online component, delivery via a virtual classroom and further deep dives for more experienced designers.

Innovation Development

Collaborations & Partnerships

When developing the Academy program we collaborated with other agencies and educational institutions to ensure the content was compelling and educationally sound.

From the outset, we have shared our content and experience with others so they can learn and adapt our program. We have shared with:
• Australian and international government departments
• OPSI members (toolkit navigator & OPSI blog)
• Apolitical members (online workshop)

Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

Our program is open to federal, state and local public servants. We are focussed on changing the way we engage with the community to ensure we truly understand the people we are designing solutions for

The methodology we teach focusses on the problem from the user’s point of view to ensure the solution supports what they are trying to achieve. Adopting this approach across government would see greater efficiencies, and the policies/programs/services we develop would truly meet community needs

Innovation Reflections

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

We have delivered training to almost 500 public servants since launching in May 2018. The trainers we have trained, have adapted the content and format to their own agencies and have in turn trained an additional 2,100 staff.

Our main success measurement is that we no longer need to advertise new training dates. Word is spreading and we are regularly booked out 2-3 months in advance.

We have a number of Alumni success stories where they have applied their new skills with great success and we often received feedback that “this is the best training course I have ever been on”.

Our future plans include an online component, delivery via a virtual classroom and further deep dives for more experienced designers.

Challenges and Failures

The course content is case study and experience driven. We incorporate storytelling of projects we have worked on to demonstrate the ways HCD can be used and to highlight outcomes that can be achieved. To ensure these case studies are authentic and relevant, our facilitators are all experienced HCD practitioners.

To keep these case studies up to date and relevant, we rotate presenters onto projects and back again. Initially we did this every 3 months which resulted in instability of content and approach. It was difficult to ensure all participants over time were achieving the same learning outcomes as the presenters were adapting the content to their own style and experience.

Since the beginning of 2019, we have adapted our approach. We appointed an Academy lead and made the rotations of BizLab staff 6 monthly. This not only provided the stability that we had been lacking, it allowed us to take a more strategic approach to develop the program.

Conditions for Success

Currently in Australia there is a push within government to understand the community we serve and how they are impacted by government services. De-regulation and regulation ‘congestion busting’ is a priority for our Government and our Department. In addition there is the commitment and support from our Department’s Secretary who often promotes the program and our approach.

We charge participants from outside of our Department a modest fee on a cost recovery basis. This fee pays for two full time presenters.

Our team sits inside an innovation lab of design practitioners, we supplement our training resources with other BizLab staff so that our facilitators can remain current by undertaking HCD projects within the department and to get a break from facilitation. This allows us to continually bring in new case studies into our course material from the projects we’ve run.

Replication

Under our train the trainer program, the training has been adapted and delivered in other Australian Commonwealth departments.

After completing train the trainer, we share all of our course content with the participant and allow them to change and adapt it to meet the needs of their own agency.

As an example of this, the Australian Taxation Office was one of the first agency’s to adopt our program and become a trainer. They have taken our content, developed their own course and have since trained over 2,000 of their staff.

Another example is the Department of Home Affairs, which is one of the largest government agency in Australia. They have adapted the content and added more Agile Methodology components as they are delivering the training to their ICT areas. In the last 12 months, 16 areas from around the department have been trained.

The train the trainer program is available, at no cost, to design practitioners who work in Government

Lessons Learned

We often share our learnings with others attempting to establish similar learning programs. We have found the biggest learning have come from the continuous support we offer to our Alumni. These include:
• Don’t be singular in your approach. People engage in different ways so having a multi-channel approach is important.
• People are time poor. They have good intentions of staying in touch and practicing new skills, but it takes longer and more effort. This often results in dropping back into their old ways. Keeping the skills and techniques relevant and visible reminds them to continue to try.
• People reach out to people they are comfortable with. Our support system needs to include all of the presenters that we’ve had that may have formed a relationship with the participants. Given this, measuring the time and effort we are investing in our Alumni program is difficult.
• Be realistic about the time it takes to mentor and guide people. This cannot be rushed or you will not get a good outcome. You do however, need to set clear boundaries so expectations are being met.

Supporting Videos

Year: 2018
Level of Government: National/Federal government

Status:

  • Implementation - making the innovation happen
  • Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed
  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

Innovation provided by:

Files:

Date Published:

7 December 2020

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