Lessons about building an innovation lab & organizational change

Lessons in how not to set up an innovation lab

Claire Medina and Joe Hodge of Kolba, a social venture incubator in Armenia, has an interesting post about the challenges that a small group inside of a larger org will have, when trying to introduce a design-thinking approach & push for innovation. They have encountered some challenges in encouraging a design approach to spread within their organization.

Some of the problems they’ve seen with innovation labs getting off the ground:

  • Other people inside the org resent or resist the ‘lab movement’
  • The terminology of innovation and design process are too jargony and alienate people
  • All of the ‘experimentation’ and ‘innovation’ are then expected to be in the lab and not in other places inside the or

Here are some of the lessons they’ve drawn:

Lesson: don’t wait for engagement by your colleagues; apply design-led approaches to show the difference.

Lesson: keep it simple where possible; fill terms with meaning through activities and artefacts.

Lesson: ‘innovation lab’ may be a useful brand externally, but internally it can be harmful – be prepared to let go if necessary.

Lesson: co-own and start slow.

All of this discussion is relevant to how we talk about bringing organizational change in the legal industry too. If more organizations do start creating labs and groups devoted to innovation, how do we spread their lessons, work, and agenda throughout the org?