savertasche2 How 2008
How to? Photo by: sabertasche2

Successful Innovation Lab passion projects tend to encourage collaboration, experimentation and learning. If you are passionate about an idea, you can pitch it to other Lab members to recruit like-minded colleagues from across the City who might be interested in helping make your idea a reality.

The Innovation Lab encourages projects that think big and start small.

Characteristics of an Innovation Lab passion project (P2)

  • Focus is on collaboration, experimentation and learning
  • Time, cost, impact, and risk must be low
    • < 3 hrs / week (typically outside of normal work hours; volunteer time)
    • Virtually no cost (at least for pilot projects)
    • Any risks are considered negligible and unlikely
  • The pitch document that outlines the P2 and acts as a mini-project charter outlining project scope, timeline, and resources
  • The P2 encourages projects to learn iteratively by doing (evaluation!)
  • Short report/presentation should be written with outcomes (positive and negative) and lessons learned

Responsibilities of the P2 teams who use the Lab model

  • The P2 team will be responsible for the implementation of their own idea
  • Required resources must be approved by management (where applicable)

Benefits to the P2 teams who use the Lab model

  • Process encourages collaboration, experimentation and learning
  • Supportive environment and resources
  • Exposure and recognition
  • Professional development

Role of the Innovation Lab in supporting P2 teams

  • Provide guidance to P2 teams whose ideas need further refinement with the goal of eventually sanctioning their P2
  • Connect the right people at the right time

Examples of successful Innovation Lab passion projects

  • Innovation TEDucation – a lunch-and-learn series where attendees (mostly TPS employees) would discuss how a TED Talk relates to our work
  • Tracking Toronto Ticker – a ticker (similar to a stock ticker) that displays data from Open Data TO to show how Toronto is doing
  • Codecademy Club – participants get together weekly for ten weeks to improve their coding skills using Codecademy; five concurrent sessions just wrapped up
  • Luncha Kucha – a new lunch-and-learn series where two people each deliver (read: perform) a Pecha Kucha presentation on any topic they so choose to their TPS colleagues

Steps for running a P2

  1. Come up with an idea — don’t be afraid to think big!
  2. Scope your idea (keeping in mind the characteristics of a P2) and develop your pitch; jot out a rough plan for your idea and do your best to answer these questions:
    • What do you want to achieve?
    • Who would need to be involved?
    • What would the timeline be?
    • How are you going to pull this off (e.g., resources, permissions, etc.)?
    • How will you evaluate your project?
  3. Pitch your idea at an Innovation Lab Roundtable meeting (typically held monthly), after which:
    • You’ll be in the position to recruit some people to help you implement your P2, OR
    • You’ll need to refine your pitch and bring it back to a future meeting
  4. Working with the people you’ve recruited, implement your idea!
  5. Don’t forget to evaluate your project; what have you learned?
    • Report back to the Innovation Lab Roundtable
  6. Celebrate your successes!
  7. Use what you’ve learned to refine your idea and grow it