Innovation management

Future by Lund tests OECD's new tools

Caroline Wendt
December 11, 2020

With a rapidly transforming society, public organizations need to be prepared for changes - and one way is to develop their capacity for innovation. Within the OECD, there is a group that works with public sector innovation (OPSI - Observatory for Public Sector Innovation). They have developed a tool called the OPSI Portfolio Exploration Tool, which provides public sector organisations with a tool to work strategically with innovation portfolios. Future by Lund has worked with the OPSI team during 2020 to test and make use of the tool – while at the same time OPSI has used the experience with Future by Lund to develop the tool.

How is innovation (or development) work implemented in your organization, within your administration, in your team or in your project? It is reasonable to believe that different forms of innovation have unique needs and are connected in various ways to each other. Therefore, OPSI (OECD's Observatory for Public Sector Innovation) has developed a model and tool for developing public organizations' capacity for development and innovation, namely, our ability to meet the challenges of tomorrow.

OPSI uses a model they call Innovation Facets (see below). It categorises innovation activities into four areas: Mission-oriented innovation (to achieve set goals), Enhancement-oriented innovation (improvement-oriented innovations), Anticipatory innovation (innovations in uncertain and future-oriented areas), and Adaptive innovation (flexible innovations that meet the needs of new technology and circumstances). There are also two axes: the vertical axis expresses the origin or driving force for the innovation activity - bottom-up to top-down (where Mission-oriented innovation is top-down and Adaptive innovation the opposite), and the horizontal axis expresses the aims or type of results from the innovation activity – ranging from certain (Enhancement) to uncertain (Anticipatory).

OECD Observatory for Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) - Public Sector Innovation Facets Model

Utilizing the Portfolio Exploration Tool (PET), members of an innovation group, a department, or part of a municipality can make a self-assessment of their development and innovation activities . The results will show a member's views on the organization's innovation work; however, the results from several staff members can be gathered and give a more comprehensive picture of the relative balance of various forms of innovation activities within an organisation.

The portfolio snapshot provides an idea of how much focus the group's work has in the different innovation areas. It is also possible to place projects directly in the facet model. This can provide an overview of the number of projects/different innovation activities in different areas (how balanced the portfolio is) – and the opportunity to review the different types of resources, facilitating actions, etc. that projects need to advance. For example, the group can identify if they work more in the area of improvement but less towards adaptation to new technology, or perhaps have no connection to uncertain and radical changes. It can also be a basis for recognizing where resources are placed.

– In general, it is about all innovations needing different methods, resources, and connection, says Katarina Scott, project developer at Future by Lund. If, for example, you are given the task of improving and saving - do you have the resources, knowledge, and methods to do this through development or do you have to discontinue things? For us, it is a way to work strategically with the portfolio and think about where we want the area to be and how we can act to move the area in the right direction. The OPSI tool also provides a way to compare innovation work with other cities so that we can learn from each other.

The survey can be carried out from varying starting points and perspectives, which consequently will result in different outcomes. An individual can, for example, respond from the perspective of their organization; however, they are also able to respond from the perspective of their role within Lund's innovation ecosystem. The outcome can then reveal different strengths and weaknesses, depending on the chosen perspective, that needs development.

Future by Lund first encountered OPSI when the tool was presented at NatSam, the National Collaboration for Innovation Platforms. As the attending representatives from Future by Lund thought it was interesting, Future by Lund was given the opportunity to try the tool, both on the premise of being a test pilot for other innovation platforms, but also as a user who is involved in developing OPSI's tools.

– We have received feedback from OPSI that they appreciate Lund's insights and that we are helping OECD to shape the tool, says Emily Wise. Soon we will start discussions about what we can do together in the future.

In Lund, the project Viable City and Future by Lund have tried the self-assessment tool, which was found to provide an increased understanding of the projects' strengths and needs.

Translation : Ben Dohrmann


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