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Guest blog post by Grace Kim, ICT Grad.

I volunteered my way into the Service Innovation Lab (Lab) again, on the Entering Tertiary Discovery Sprint. My last stint was 4 or 5 months ago. It didn't take me long to form an opinion of the work environment and the structures: I loved it.

After entering into the public sector as a professional, I found my expectations didn’t quite line up to reality. I wanted to find UX-related work in government, which was as hard as finding water in a desert, so the Lab was like an oasis.

Here is why. In the Lab:

  • I was able to do work that interested me
  • It was in the area I was passionate about
  • I was able to keep motivated
  • The team was co-located
  • Support is there when you need it
  • You feel safe and open to contributing.

What's the value?

1) Value to the team

I got to use many of the skills that I don’t get a chance to use at my home agency in my normal role. Due to wanting to work Agile, I felt that I worked quite well in conjunction with the team. Not only was my (fairly recent) experience of having been a tertiary student relevant to the work, but I was motivated to bring about change and focus on different aspects. Co-location is not a common thing inside government, but I feel that it's an experience all employees need to have to understand the different types and ways of working and adapt to NWOW (New Ways of Working).

2) Value to the agencies

It's easy to lose focus on a project, especially when you have another 3 projects to focus on and you don't know where to start. Being in a fast paced, time-bound location allows employees to be so much more efficient and productive. The fact that you can let your brain focus on one project brings full immersion and I find that incredibly important for the success of projects. The Lab gives an experience that most agencies cannot provide, by allowing employees to spend some time in the Lab it exposes them to different working styles, methods and learn different skills without the need to go on training. Also these employees are co-located which means constant synergy.

Why experience it?

Every organisation is in transition to be more Agile and customer focused, yet how do you put the customer at the centre if you have never had the experience of applying customer centricity?

The Lab is the perfect place to get a taste tester, explore your grounds and find out if this style of working fits with you.

Not only do you get exposure to a fluid environment, there are multiple processes and methods that are used within the Lab. If you are into HCD (Human Centred Design) or co-creation the Lab is the perfect place to explore, experience and apply, definitely a unique experience that only the Lab can offer. The Lab also hosts several other agencies and events so it's a great place to build relationships, work and have a little fun.

What have I learned?

The most powerful synergy comes from when people are motivated and have the same vision. I found it a breath of fresh air when I could talk to people who were focused on solving the problem at the root cause and providing solutions, not just maintaining the way things are and saying “this is the way we have always done it”.

  • The Lab is a way to change how government should approach challenges and opportunities
  • Direct engagement with diverse groups is the only way you will obtain their voice
  • You need an available team, as in core team members that will be present 90-100% of their time
  • The technology and environment should be enablers not blockers
  • Agency support is necessary for progression and success
  • There is a vast array of tools, methods and people to support the team through the project.

If you would like to experience a different environment, learn and apply new skills and experience cross agency collaboration, I definitely recommend getting into the Lab!

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