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
- Come up with an idea — don’t be afraid to think big!
- 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?
- 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
- Working with the people you’ve recruited, implement your idea!
- Don’t forget to evaluate your project; what have you learned?
- Report back to the Innovation Lab Roundtable
- Celebrate your successes!
- Use what you’ve learned to refine your idea and grow it