Unlocking innovation pathways in Canberra

To improve how ideas flow throughout the organisation, the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science turned to Portable to engage staff and unlock innovation.

The Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, based in Canberra, determined that it was facing an issue not too dissimilar to other government bodies around the world. It recognised that it needed to examine and change the way in which ideas flow through the organisation. All too often staff felt that ideas were not making their way to the light of day and that the organisation stifled innovation.

Our approach

The first step Portable took was to engage with the very people who were involved in the organisation to understand exactly how innovation was taking place within the organisation.

Supported by user research, industry benchmarking and surveys, Portable facilitated a series of co-design sessions with staff across the entire organisation: from policy officers to call centre workers as well as heads of department to the very head of the organisation, David Hazlehurst.

Using our research methods, we were able define the workflows, behaviours and processes that limited the flow of ideas through the organisation. We were able to articulate these as well as a range of recommendations and insights that could lead to the design of a pathway that better suited the people working at the department.

Underlying all of our processes is the need to co-design outcomes with the end users of any system. Our designers worked directly with staff at the department to conceive a new pathway that would allow for ideas to flow more freely across the organisation.

Our work resulted in exploring the entire ecosystem of innovation, including cultural elements, organisational needs, resourcing and technical exploration.

The outcomes

We produced the following artefacts and resources for the department:

  • A visual map of the proposed pathway for innovation, in the form of a presentation that could be presented across the Department.
  • Requirements and initial designs for an innovation platform that can manage and handle the technical flow of innovation internally.
  • Industry research, best practice report and a Define Report articulating the issues that were most critical to changing the organisation’s culture.
  • The Department road tested this process for feedback across its offices around Australia and has already commenced incorporating elements of this into the Department’s day to day practice to better utilise the ideas of its staff to improving the service of the Department.


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