The Local Government Conference is an annual event run by Local Government NZ to bring together members of local bodies from around the country to share ideas and get inspired to continue the great work they are doing for their towns, cities and regions. 2019’s theme was “Riding the localism wave: Putting communities in charge” which was all about exploring ways to empower communities to tackle the issues they are facing.
As one stop on a packed itinerary, CHQ was asked to facilitate a session with some of the attendees to unlock innovative solutions towards this theme. There was just one catch – we had a one hour slot to cover a range of complex issues in a meaningful and actionable way. Naturally, the sheer magnitude of this undertaking called for some innovative thinking of our own. The result? An elegant solution that compressed days worth of innovation methodology into just one hour.
Presenting the Local Government Conference 2019 Walkshop
Facilitated by Lightning Lab GovTech 2019 Programme Director, Jonnie Haddon, the walkshop was structured around five pre-selected focus areas:
- Communal spaces
- Iwi Partnerships
- Water Management
- Cross Council Collaboration
- Community Engagement
The whole experience was designed to get the participants thinking a bit differently, applying a bit of creativity and pushing past what was and thinking about what could be. Following an introduction from our CEO Stefan Korn and a guided tour of the space conducted by our community coordinator Warkina Tujuba, the group partook in two activities.
How might we…?
The first activity was one we like to call “how might we?”
The group was asked to imagine that they were the executive team of Sky Television and to come up with an innovative strategy for how they would help Sky maintain their market leading position. To make things interesting, they were also transported back in time to 2009 when giants like Netflix were yet to take a firm hold over the market in New Zealand.
To help them shape their ideas, we introduced the 10 types of innovation. This is a framework that covers the different ways that an organisation might be innovative; be it through changing a key process, creating a superior product or even changing the positioning of a brand.
Armed with post-it notes, sharpies and a bunch of brown paper the ideas started flowing. We got the participants to pose questions that start with “how might we…” followed by an idea for how to innovate Sky’s model.
This allowed the group to get their head around the different ways that innovation can happen. The benefit of hindsight helped to give clarity to how this has played out in the online streaming market, giving the participants a good picture of what Sky could have done to secure their position back in the day.
When in doubt, Post-it it
Is there a more versatile innovation tool than the Post-it? We haven’t found it yet! The second activity had the group look at the key focus areas outlined above. Participants were asked to silently post-it the challenges facing their communities as they relate to the focus areas, as well as what was already working well or had worked well in the past.
Having brainstormed their ideas as individuals, they then selected the focus area they were most interested in and discussed it in more detail with their peers. During the discussion participants organised the post-it notes into sub-themes, identified any common observations and then presented these back to the group.
This exercise yielded a range of ideas and insights into the focus areas. One of the prevailing opinions was that community collaboration should be at the centre of all local government processes rather than only consulting at a single point in a project. This holds weight due to the fact it was driven by the people who are immersed in these issues everyday. This makes the result not only highly relevant, but immediately actionable when the participants return to their day job after the conference.
Overall, the walkshop was a resounding success and provided what we hope was a refreshing take on problem solving for these key local leaders. At CHQ we truly believe that entrepreneurs are everywhere and, whether you’re in a tiny startup, a giant corporate or a local government office, that the innovation tools we teach can help you think differently about the issues in your world.
Interested in running a programme like this for your organisation? Get in touch for a chat about your goals and what this could look like for you.