Kristina Törnblom brought years of professional experience with her into her studies at the codesign master program. Now she reports from her externship at Mindlab, where codesign concerns meet the business of public policy development. Over to Kristina:
A group of people are gathered around a huge beech tree standing in the middle of the forest at Møns Klint. “This small blue flower represents Stig (this is not his real name..), he was the ambassador in this project”, Kit explains and points at a flower on the ground. A stick is put in the ground next to it with a string connected that continues on a winding road out into the bushes, up over the branches in the tree, down again, around the huge stem, continues into a messy ball and continues along a small path in the bush vanishing in the distance.
As part of my studies at the codesign master programme I just started a two month externship at MindLab, a cross-governmental innovation unit which involves citizens and businesses in creating new solutions for society. All of the staff are on the yearly strategy tour to explore challenges and future directions. The rumour says that the newly installed Head of Innovation thought there was a need for something different than fancy hotels and this year the invitation was clear: Pack your sleeping bags, we are going out into the wild and sleep under the stars!
MindLab is owned by three ministeries and a municipality ; Ministry of Business and Growth, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Employment and Odense Municipality. The owners cover a broad area of policymaking around topics close to peoples everyday life. MindLabs focus is on seeing their work from an outside in perspective, that is from a citizen perspective, and to use this as a platform for cocreating better solutions, services and ideas for society.
My work here is, apart from taking part in the daily tasks and activities, going to focus on two projects: One together with Arbejstilsynet (Danish working environment authority) who have expressed a desire to work more holistically with supporting a culture of a good working environment at the workplaces they cooperate with, not only being a supervising authority. Another project is focusing on how a coming reform of the vocational education can be supported by the action plans used as asteering tool in the separate schools.
The first weeks has been an exciting experience entering into a world where the everyday discussions circles around things like capacity building, legislation and implementation of reforms, all issues new to me. There are also many topics familiar like: How can we avoid working in silos? How much of experts do we have to be of the different policy areas we are entering into? How to enhance the sense of ownership over the projects to the organisations and people we are working together with? So I am really looking forward to learning a new thing or two!
Let´s take a jump back to the woods at Møn. The activity around the beech tree is an attempt to make more spatial service journeys to describe and communicate processes that Mindlab staff has been part of during previous projects and attempting to address specific challenges and opportunities during the process that could be worked on further. In small groups we create spatial service journeys using a basket with mixed material: cardboard, sticks, balloons, chocolate beetles(!) and the material of the forest of course. Then we walk through and present the journeys to the others.
A really inspiring example that allows for expressing things difficult to express on paper. It was fun, and it was very nice to get a physical sense of the different projects at MindLab, walking them through together.
The sun is setting behind the trees. We are gathered around the fireplace munching chocolate bettles. It will be a great night sleeping under the stars..