Experimentation Accelerator has been launched
The Government of Finland has launched an “Experimentation Accelerator”, a network-based self-organising platform for innovative public servants to develop cross-sectoral solutions through co-creation, mutual learning and sparring from inspiring innovation champions. This year there are 17 teams involved in the process consisting of 4 co-working sessions, with experiments ranging from Lean Start-up, deepened service thinking in and across the participating organisations to AI and strategic HR.
The Accelerator is now held for the second time, and it was launched on 25 September. As part of the organizing team this year, Finnish Broadcasting Company and Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra joined the team consisting of Work 2.0 project, Experimental Finland, Suomidigi and D9 who were the pioneers behind the first Accelerator held in 2017-2018. The accelerator is also an experiment in itself, organised in an agile fashion and with minimum bureaucratic burden, inviting different actors to share their ideas and resources, competence and networks in order to learn and inspire each other. The accelerator also acts as a pilot platform for future collaboration that we believe will be part of mainstream working practice in the future.
There are 17 teams involved in the acceleration process, each with their own challenges to work on, both together across teams and as individual teams, who take their lessons and learnings back to their everyday office work. The diversity of themes is taken as an inherent part of the concept, though it also poses certain challenges. This year there was special emphasis on inviting in co-operative experiments in which interests relate to new forms of organization, enhancing customer understanding and orientation and / or digitalisation, artificial intelligence and robotics in the development of cross-sector service paths. The launch certainly was very promising: the motivation and inspiration for finding and sharing new solutions across teams was tangible. The experiments that the teams brought onto the table ranged from correcting false rumors of Finland amongst potential immigrant groups, cross-sector control of online shopping, strategic HR planning, virtual learning pedagogy, innovative customer feedback channels, future foresight, lowering organizational boundaries within agencies, developing young people's services etc. etc.
The innovation seeks to put service-dominant logic and the people at the heart of public sector innovation, both in terms of the customers, stakeholders in the service ecosystem and citizens. By so doing it addresses the challenges of silo-based administration and barriers to collaboration, as well as supports the shift to a more self-organisational learning in developing innovative working practice in the public sector working environments. Providing encouragement to think and to act differently and by so doing empowering the people at their work places it strengthens the internal motivation for transformation in the public sector, whilst ensuring people feel motivated to work in the public sector working places and see the connection between their internal motivation and external satisfaction and trust in the public administration. By providing a safe environment to experiment in, the accelerator allows people to try new things and learn from them without fear of failure. Failure can rather be seen as an opportunity for maximizing the learning that takes place. In the 4 co-working sessions the teams learn from each other and create an understanding of what experimental governance and experimental development mean in practical terms.
In a culture where careful planning is seen as a priority above all else, a truly self-organising process, based on peer-learning and co-creation is still a novelty. Only the process and basic structure of 4 co-learning sessions is pre-determined, almost everything else is determined in the process, by the participants themselves and all learning and lessons along the way can influence the implementation. Though the selection of focus and content is determined by the participants themselves, this time we hoped to have themes focusing on collaboration and cooperation, as these were seen as the key areas in the first round of experimentation acceleration.