Reflections from Create / Innovate – Perspectivity Game

Perspectivity Game was one of the activities available for staff during Create / Innovate.

The following is a brief reflection from the event that took place on 26th June.

Senior members from across different departments of the council including corporate services, emergency response, health and social care came together for an afternoon. Their expectations of the session ranged from “surprise me!” to “how different sections/roles within DCC can help influence/shape change” and “new ways of thinking to help families in crisis to problem solve.”

The game was approached with some nervousness and “cautious strategies” as the group grappled with the ambiguity of the game – yet a few ‘conflicts’ certainly warmed up conversation around the table. There was early frustration that the game did not invite opportunities to collaborate until the team realised that it was something they should have taken rather than waiting for it.

A participant responded “My work is all about enabling other people and I can’t believe I behaved like this” another said “I thought I knew about things like collaboration but we went back to quite an early age!”

From my personal point of view, this event was self contained and the hardest thing was in encouraging people to sign up.

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Reflections from Create / Innovate – Inspired by Video

One of the events I personally thought would be popular and useful for staff was the “inspired by Video” sessions where we provided some popcorn (which I bought) and a theatre style room layout, a large screen and the video.

However it soon became apparent by a number of emails and comments to the site for a list of all the URL’s directly so people could watch them on their own! Which sort of defeated the object of the session, however we did get some people turn up but not on a scale we had hoped.

Moving forward we are considering using some of the videos we selected to help inform meetings/discussions where broadly speaking the video topic could be used to help challenge the current thinking.

One example of this was the video “Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us”
This lively RSA Animate, adapted from Dan Pink’s talk at the RSA, illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace. - this would provide a really good introduction to a discussion or meeting talking or considering staff rewards and benefits.

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Reflections from Create / Innovate – XJamGov

So at the beginning of June I participated in XJamGov, which was part of the international Global Service Jam and was focused on the public sector/government.


My three things – photo from flickr, by Phillippa Rose

First and foremost it was one of the best learning experiences I’ve had in a long time…I didn’t expect to learn so much in such a short time. It sort of felt like the first time I attended a govcamp event – I was nervous, anxious, intrigued and fascinated by the whole thing.

As the picture shows I wanted to:

  • Learn – new things and learn about people
  • Make – cool things
  • Be inspired – to change the world

It met each on of these (although I think i was probably motivated to change the world beforehand).

So what did I get from this event?

Well it wasn’t all easy and free-flowing, I found parts of it hard to engage with and the fast pace meant that you couldn’t really hang around and reflect on stuff.

The first kick off session starting on Tuesday 4th by receiving the secret theme and then capturing ideas, this was straight forward as a concept but the approach was refreshing so made it feel new. The next bit was straight into developing ideas and that became strangely hard as it didn’t seem to create any tangible ideas i could connect with so I was at risk of disconnecting with the process right at the beginning. However I trusted the organisers (Simon Gough and Phillippa Rose) so went with it. About 15 minutes before we finished I was part of a conversation with a couple of other participants and we started formalising an idea and it started to make sense and we quickly became more and more focused on that and then it all started making sense.

On Wednesday 5th morning the sun was shining and I had managed to reflect on the ideas we were talking and discussing yesterday and when I caught up with the others who then became fellow team members we started to recap on where we thought we were and we quickly started to develop the idea and was then tasked with creating a concept to show the other teams. Our team was called “Team Troubadour”….



The basic concept we developed was that stories and storytelling can change the world and help people and communities grow…we put together a Lego model and some sketches which outlined the concept and were then tasked with sharing this with others for constructive challenge.

After the challenge session we had to do some more formal work around business models and used the business model canvas to help us flesh out what our service actually was, who it was for and how we would create it.

I really enjoyed this session and found the process of only picking one customer segment very challenging but it was a critical step in helping us define a minimum viable product.

Our customer segment was schools and our idea was that a school would sign up and be tasked to gather stories from within their community and then be responsible for how these stories are shared. We also had the idea that each school would need to find a global partner school and they would challenge the school to also gather stories from within their community and each would share the results with each other via our platform.

So we ended up with a proposition and description which was this:

We want to help reconnect people to each other and to their communities through the power of story telling.

By sharing stories we open ourselves up, enable learning in unexpected ways, and ultimately provide opportunities to increase community cohesion, social understanding and general well-being.

We provide a ‘Troubadour’ story telling pack, which includes story guides, story prompts, story wheels and a variety of other educational resources which invite people to have the courage to share.

Troubadour also provides an online service which enables groups to open up their projects for sharing and collaboration with other groups.

Some of the challenge we identified were that stories are often hard to tell, sometimes hard to uncover, so we wanted to create a set of tools which helped facilitate that process…We then started prototyping and we were talking about the products and services we needed to create…one of the first prototypes we created was a story wheel.  We did some curriculum mapping, customer personas, resource development, website wire-framing and researched other websites and platforms around how they worked and operated.

XJamGov #ggovjam

XJamGov #ggovjam

We were able to road test the concept using our own team and some of the pirates who come in to constructively challenge your ideas…

The whole process was intense, inspiring and also fun, I don’t recall having this much fun whilst being so productive…I’ve learnt a huge amount around this aspect specifically that I spent some time this afternoon chatting on google plus with one of my team about how we can learn from and adopt some of the techniques and approaches to get more from what we do.

Thursday was mainly focused on finalising our prototypes and creating our presentation to upload to the govjam website for it to be shared.

It was fast paced and fully of funny moments as well as some challenging conversations…however we managed to create a presentation and upload it, as well as uploading and linking to a number of the resources etc we had done.

Most of the teams work can be found here

The other teams results are available here

This is the video we created

So would I do this again…without a doubt and I would HIGHLY recommend these events to anyone and everyone…It truly was an inspiring few days.


That was week one of Create / Innovate

Week 1 of Create/Innovate month saw our Corporate Leadership Team (CLT) hold their weekly meeting at the Met Office’s Think-up room. The room aims to create an innovative space where conversations can flow more freely away for the sometimes confining spaces of normal meeting rooms.

CLT wanted to see how using the room would affect their thinking, discussions and decisions and experiment with a new way of conducting meetings, which included the use of mobile devices instead of paper. Staff followed CLT discussions on the Council Yammer network and overall CLT found that using the room and working in a very different environment provided a positive experience.

Between Tuesday and Thursday the council hosted XJamGov – a global service design event.  We were joined by over 30 other cities from around the world to prototype services in 48 hours - As it turned out we were the only UK event and the only event which was actively supported by a local authority across the world.

XJam Gov #ggovjam

Story Wheels and Make a wish box -from flickr by Carl Haggerty

I was lucky enough to be a participant and across the three days three groups created three services – all of which prototyped real viable services, mapped out and created business models and revenue structures, mapped customer personas, tested them and were challenged by pirates (Thank you to Mary Davis, Sam Hill and Mike Bomford who challenged the teams on Wednesday – Ann Holman and Mark Cotton for their challenges on Thursday – your input was critical to the process)

The results of the 48 hours are now all posted online for anyone to see and each contain a very short introductory video explaining the services which I would highly recommend as we all spent a good deal of effort creating the videos.

If you are interested in seeing a selection of photos from the event you can view some here on flickr


XJamGov – from flickr by Phillippa Rose

All in all I personally found this to be a very valuable learning experience and the process whilst challenging at times delivered results and it was refreshing to be able to create something real and tangible in such a short amount of time.

Thanks obviously go to the organisers Redfront Service Design (Phillippa Rose and Simon Gough), whose facilitation and organisation were critical to the success of the event.


Guest Post: By Ciara Eastell – Head of Libraries, Culture and Heritage

Guest Post: By Ciara Eastell – Head of Libraries, Culture and Heritage

We’re now in June.  The weather has taken a turn for the better; I’ve just had a terrific week off work and we’re at the start of Devon County Council’s Create and Innovate month.  I thought I would use these three elements to set the scene for Create and Innovate by writing a personal reflection on creativity and what it means to me.

For most of my life, I would have thought about myself as essentially not a creative person.  It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why but I do recall a very strong memory from my childhood, when, at around the age of 8, I was actively discouraged by a parent from drawing pictures to accompany the stories that I loved to write at school.  I don’t recall the exact words but, as academic success was highly prized in my family, I think it was because drawing pictures was not viewed as integral to academic success.  As a result, I never drew seriously again and consequently I have never developed any confidence as an artist.  I worked hard academically as a child and teenager and consequently have a raft of very good qualifications…… But until about 8 or 9 years ago, I never felt creative and didn’t really value creativity as a skill or value that I should seek.

My feelings changed during 2004/5 when I was lucky enough to be selected as a Fellow on the Clore Leadership Programme for leaders within the cultural sector.  For the first time in my professional career, I found myself learning alongside dancers, theatre directors, musicians and a range of other people from across the cultural sector – people who, for the most part, saw creativity as an enormous part of their individual identities.  What I learned from them and from the programme as a whole was that creativity and creative thinking is one of the most important skills I could possibly acquire – even more so in an era when you can’t pass an exam or learn something by rote to enable you to fulfil a useful role within society.

I learned that creativity isn’t about something being right or wrong; it is about the space to think and reflect on the world; your role in it and the value of the work you are doing.  None of us are robots, going about our jobs with pre-programmed rules of what’s right or wrong; good or bad – all of our work, at whatever level we work, is about making judgements.  For me, creativity is about being alive to what’s going on in interactions between yourself and others and always learning; always reflecting and always being open to new influences and ideas.

Create and Innovate is such an important opportunity for us in libraries.  The future of libraries is not determined – there are huge challenges ahead as our communities change; as technology changes how people consume and create knowledge and, inevitably, as existing funding continues to shrink.  If we can use Create and Innovate to stimulate some new ideas, try out some different ways of doing things, develop some new partnerships or collaborations, we may be able to start an important new discussion on how our libraries can develop still further over the next few years to be as vibrant and valuable as we all want them to be.  I don’t expect we’ll crack this in a month!  June is about starting a process for us all and to share what we’ve learned so we can use the coming months to go still further.

I feel particularly excited about Create and Innovate because, as I say, I’ve just had a week off.  Probably like most of us, I find that my own thinking is refreshed from time away from work; giving my local government brain a bit of a rest and the other parts of my identity a chance to flourish.  In the past week, I’ve spent several happy hours playing with play-doh; been rockpooling in Exmouth; gazed out the window at the White Horses of Wiltshire on a long train journey; reconnected with my own childhood by sharing ‘The Magic Faraway Tree’ with my eldest daughter; danced in the glorious sunshine at the Exeter Respect Festival.  What will you be doing during ‘Create and Innovate’ to give yourself the chance to refresh your thinking  – about yourself, your library or your community?  Let me know!

Have a good week.


P.S.  If there is only one thing you do during Create and Innovate, I strongly recommend you watch a 20 minute TED talk by Sir Ken Robinson on creativity


Create / Innovate starts today…

With Create / Innovate starting today, I’d thought I’d recap on the reasons why and some of the things we hope to achieve..

One of the reasons for holding Create / Innovate is to respond to a recent Council report to our Corporate Leadership Team in relation to the Barriers to Digital Innovation. The key findings of that report stated that we had a diverse set of reasons why digital innovation specifically was difficult and they were different across the organisation and in different service areas, however across the council it was a combination of one or more of the following barriers:

  • The attitude to risk across different service areas, some were naturally more relaxed than others

  • The cultural challenges and associated issues

  • Policy constraints and issues arising from a few conflicting policies

  • Technical barriers and issues – these were not just about ICT access as information security concerns were also affecting usage

  • Resource issues and perceptions that the “flood gates” would open and we would struggle to manage the multiple channels effectively

Corporate Leadership Team supported the report and tasked Corporate Communications in collaboration across the council with a series of actions which would start to unpick and address the barriers. The actions which have helped trigger Create / Innovate are listed below:

  1. approve the review and rationalisation of relevant policies and guidelines and re-present to staff

  2. approve a continued programme of staff engagement, awareness raising and training delivered in creative and innovative ways;

  3. support digital and social media pilots/prototypes and the establishment of digital leaders across service areas

So why Create / Innovate?

There were three things really, which led to the idea of Create / Innovate being a month long series of events and activities, although originally it was only planned for one week as it seemed more realistic to fill one week with activities.

The first was a conversation with colleagues at the Met Office in Exeter who recently held a similar event. In conversations I explained my aspiration to hold a similar event somehow at the council and mentioned that our Corporate Leadership Team were really supportive, so they offered a room at the Met Office for our Corporate Leadership Team to hold their first meeting in June. After a further conversation with our Chief Executive and his Executive Assistant about the practicality, they agreed that they would give it a go and try it to see how using different spaces helps change the dynamics of the conversations and decisions. So on Monday 3rd June, the councils Corporate Leadership Team will be holding their meeting in the Met Office, they will be using digital devices and smartphones and it will be reported live to staff via the councils yammer network.

The second thing was a conversation with a local Service Design Agency Redfront Service Design (Simon Gough and Phillippa Rose) who organised the recent Service Jam event in Exeter back in March (XJam) and there was an opportunity to host and get involved in supporting a specific Service Jam for the public sector in June (GovJam), which locally we have called XJamGov – this takes place between 4-6 June.

The idea of GovJam is to work around a common theme, small Teams meet at multiple locations, working for 48 hours on building innovative approaches and solutions towards challenges faced by the public sector.

GovJams are especially relevant to local government and public sector professionals, and will give us the opportunity to grow collaborations  - exchanging techniques, insights and ideas with colleagues near and far, while working on concrete projects addressing key issues inspired by the common Theme.

35 locations around the world are currently hosting an event including: LA, San Francisco, Barcelona, Warsaw, Eindhoven, Bologna, Mumbai, Berlin, Helsinki, Santiago, Montreal, Toronto, Perth, Canberra and Melbourne – In the UK only Exeter and Dundee are currently hosting events.

The third opportunity also came up through a twitter conversation with the Local DirectGov Team which added more scope to a months long event, was to host a Really Useful Day at County Hall – it is in so many ways similar to the Jam experience although we know the topic in advance.

The purpose of the day is to learn about and explore customer user journeys. It aims to map existing user journeys and take people through a process so that participants are more aware of how the real user journey can be improved – the following challenge is then taking that back into the work place and implementing it.

The great thing about both of these events is that they aren’t exclusively for staff at the council and will be attended by a diverse group of people from across the region which helps us to build new connections and collaborations.

Encouraging a culture change

Like most people the real challenge is trying to change a culture from the edges and this won’t happen in June alone. Culture change is a complex thing to make happen and we are fortunate here in Devon that we are in a climate where the whole organisation is starting to shift and there is more awareness of a new culture emerging.

The council has also spent the last twelve months exploring the next 5-10 years under the heading “Future Landscape” which has provided a lot of internal momentum and has engaged around 300 staff across all services and at all levels in thinking differently, so we won’t be starting from scratch in terms of engaging people in opportunities to think differently and challenging existing cultures.

My aspiration is that if we can nudge or disrupt people forward by 5 steps and then in July they take 4 steps backwards, at least we would have moved. The greater challenge will be in sustaining the momentum from some of the staff and amplify that and make it more visible.

Adding value and the wider benefits

We’ve also looked at how some of what we do can involve the wider public and although the primary focus is to challenge the internal culture of the organisation, we have an opportunity through some of our public facing services to involve and engage the public in helping us to think differently as well as challenging them to think differently around how our services are provided.

One of the most active service areas is Libraries, where we have adopted a more public image called “Time to Make and Play” which we hope will help people engage in small scale activities in some of the libraries to help them explore how the spaces can be used and how collaborative approaches within communities can use those spaces more effectively as well.

Some examples of the activities happening in libraries are, Raspberry Pi Jam, Gadget Days, Free to Play tables, Musical drop in sessions, Smartphone advice and make a noise in libraries.

Lessons so far…

  • Involve people:
    Working collaboratively with a wide group of people from different orgs requires you to be flexible in the tools you use and how you communicate with people.

  • Sell the idea
    Don’t sell a programme of completely fixed events, although start with something to build around, do sell an idea and ask people to help fill the programme with activities and events they believe will help challenge thinking and provide opportunities to do things differently – this allows you to capture all the variations of events and activities that people feel are required, from the more formal events like XJamGov to simply having a social media surgery so people can understand how to use smartphone more effectively.

  • Be patient, keep focused and relax
    There were times that I didn’t think this would happen, I was initially getting concerned by the lack of progress in setting things up and sorting the logistics etc, but being patient, staying focused and involving people means you can relax a little and things do and will happen.

  • Be flexible and prototype
    An absolute must, no matter what you originally thought would happen and wanted to happen, you need to be flexible and be prepared to change plans, adapt to other peoples ideas and timescales and most of all, let go of any notion of a formal plan…after all the whole month is a prototype of how we can engage people in different things.

Final thoughts

My aim has been to ensure that Create / Innovate is a creative and fun approach to addressing barriers to digital innovation and a key objective is to start to build sustained awareness and understanding of the opportunities for staff to be more creative and innovative within the council.

We are trying to disrupt people in fun and creative ways and we also hope to inspire people to try new things…the whole idea is really a prototype, so some things may not work out as we expect but that is ok so long as we learn.

Carl Haggerty
Digital Communications Manager
Devon County Council

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A Message from the Chief Executive…

“Create and Innovate Month gives us all an opportunity to try new things and to challenge how we think. Throughout June, Corporate Leadership Team (CLT) will be experimenting with innovative approaches including the use of mobile devices in meetings, and considering how meeting space can affect creativity. Colleagues engaging with CLT are also being challenged to think differently about how they get their messages across.

“Everyone has the potential to be creative and this month is an ideal time to get involved, find out more, and above all to think about how you could do what you do differently.”

Phil Norrey, Chief Executive

A bit more about Week 1 of Create / Innovate

Corporate Leadership Team (CLT) hold their weekly meeting at the Met Office’s Think-up room. CLT will be trialling a paperless meeting using Council devices or their own personal devices – the meeting will also be live yammered on the Council yammer network – if you are not registered, simply sign up for free using your DCC email address.

During week 1 we will also be hosting XJamGov, a Global Service Jam event where you get 48 hours to build innovative approaches to public sector challenges. The event will be mirrored across the world in 35 other locations including Barcelona, Los Angeles, New Delhi, Chile, and Berlin.

Get your tickets early

Inspired by Video
An opportunity to watch some inspirational talks from internationally renowned thoughts leaders and thinkers.

We’ll provide a small amount of popcorn (donated by staff) for you to enjoy with colleagues and for at least 20 minutes hopefully be inspired to think differently. There is limited space so register for a ticket to one or more of the videos showing now

Social Media Surgeries 
As part of Create / Innovate we are offering some short surgery style sessions to help people understand social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. We will also provide an introduction to blogging and, where possible, we can help you explore your personal mobile device as well. Spaces are limited so please register for a session here


Really Useful Day and XJamGov

One of the externally organised events during Create / Innovate is XJamGov ( It is being organised by Redfront Service Design.

This is part of The Global GovJam ( – an event which will apply the concept and energy of the Global Service Jam and Global Sustainability Jam into the world of government and the public sector.

Working around a common Theme, small Teams meet at multiple locations, working for 48 hours on building innovative approaches and solutions towards challenges faced by the public sector. At the end of the two days, they upload their results and publish them for the world.

GovJams are especially relevant to government and public sector professionals, and will give them the opportunity to grow collaborations  - exchanging techniques, insights and ideas with colleagues near and far, while working on concrete projects addressing key issues inspired by the common Theme.

35 locations around the world are currently hosting an event including: LA, San Francisco, Barcelona, Warsaw, Eindhoven, Bologna, Mumbai, Berlin, Helsinki, Santiago, Montreal, Toronto, Perth, Canberra and Melbourne – In the UK currently only Exeter and Dundee are hosting events.

Another externally organised  event is the Really Useful Day which is co-ordinated by the Local Direct Gov Team – it is in so many ways similar to the Jam experience although we know the topic in advance.

The purpose of the day is to learn about and explore customer user journeys. It aims to map existing user journeys and take people through a process so that participants are more aware of how the real user journey can be improved – the following challenge is then taking that back into the work place and implementing it.

I’m expecting the day to challenge thinking to ensure that we design for the customer and not ourselves.


conversations and amazing ideas

This week has been a pretty manic in terms of making sure things are in place for Create / Innovate. I’ve spoken to Internal communication colleagues about communicating to staff over the next 4 weeks or so which I hope will help raise awareness and encourage people to get involved.

I’ve also met with our colleagues in libraries who are full of amazing ideas in relation to how they use the physical space of libraries more creatively as well as offering different types of activities and events.

I want to share some of the ideas as they are really good, this isn’t the full list nor does it include some of the best ideas as we’d like to keep some things a surprise…BUT nothing is confirmed just yet as they need to ensure that these things are manageable and achievable in the time and within existing resources:

  • Run a competition to design a something useful
  • Gadget days – where the library acts as a space to bring together the experts from the community and those who need expertise
  • Raspberry Pi jam – Exeter Central recently ran an event and it was extremely popular
  • Silent Disco – or something a little more unexpected for libraries, a roller disco or karaoke!
  • Rapid engagement activity to find out what a particular group would like or what they think of something
  • A table in the adult area of the library offering drop-in craft or play activities, e.g. knitting with unusual fibres, paper craft ‘challenges’, playdough, lego bricks (rediscover the joy of play!)

I also met with our Strategy, Policy and Organisational Change team and they are going to change the format of their next team meeting towards the end of June and have a mini-jam to deliver on some specific outputs they had programmed in…So this will give them an opportunity to try something different and experiment.

Lots of other conversations as well and I also need to have so many more, but it is worth mentioning that it is a month long event and we have time to engage others in the programme and share what services are doing.

Logistics, communications and panic

With only two weeks left to go until the councils first Create / Innovate Month, we are very busy with the logistics and planning and we are having conversations with colleagues in Internal Communications around how best to spread the message out across the council.

The great thing is some communications has happened and we’ve been contacted by a few parts of the council already who are keen to share their ideas for activities and doing things differently in June with an aim to inform a more permanent change in their service.

Most of all though i think there is a subtle air of panic emerging as we get closer to the the start of June.

The whole month is a prototype of how we can and could work differently and we will learn lots, something will work and some things won’t work, but we need to start trying new things and prototyping ideas and approaches.

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