Stakeholders & Beneficiaries

The scheme covers and supports projects in a wide range of service areas, but included projects are somehow meant to lead to improved services, processes or systems. Hence, the broad objectives of the scheme is to support development of more holistic and improved public services for citizens, and to enhance efficiency and effectiveness in public administrations. All parts of the public sector can apply, and the applications are controlled and rated by the Stimulab actors. “Wicked” problems (tasks that are shared between several actors and where the actors do not see an easy way out), are seen as particularly important to support. The Government is a stakeholder, and all public agencies. They can also be the beneficiaries, together with the firms that win the contracts, and hopefully the citizens who can get improved services.

Co-creation process

Stimulab demands several co-creation processes. They support the first part of a process to improve public services. First, some projects (among the applications) are selected for a next step, a project pitch where Stimulab wants to make sure that the selected projects have an innovation potential and can have a benefits realization. The projects that will be given support are selected, and a contract is signed between the applicants and Difi. The demanded next step is a dialogue with the market, where the project owner should find private partners with competence both in service design and leading the process for change. The experience so far has been that specialists in service design have made alliances with consulting firms. But some actors now (such as PwC) have competence in both fields. When the private partner(s) are chosen, the cooperation between the public agency and the partner(s) can start, using methods of the triple diamond, where the intention is that the actors should use extra time in the beginning of the process. The triple diamond method used by Stimulab is an adaptation of the Double Diamond developed by the British Design Council. In the Stimulab version, the third diamond is included to highlight the need for taking time to properly understand the problem, coined as ‘setting the right diagnose’. It is also underlined that this process of understanding the problem needs to be carried out in collaboration with agencies/ consultancy firms with innovation and design expertise.  This is meant to ensure that the public service organisations and the external consultancies have a shared understanding of the problem, which in turn is expected to strengthen the likeliness that the developed solution will meet the actual problem and needs (thus, the third diamond adds an extra step in the start of the process).

Digital Transformation Process

There has not been any systematic digital transformation process in the projects.

Results, Outcomes & Impacts

Stimulab uses three different categories of projects in its discussion of results:
  • Projects with concrete ( and measurable gains) after the projects are finished
One project about renewing driver licences has a calculated saving of 940 m ill. N. kr. in ten years. In a project for the Archive Service they have no exact number, but state that they now can conduct more supervisions with the same resources, to take two examples.
  • Projects who have developed tools already in use, but where the results will come later
Improved air quality may be a case where they have to wait for the results.
  • Projects were gains are identified but further development of the project is needed before a take out is possible
These will be the more complex projects, and even if the gains are identified, they do not know if a gain will be realised. The impact of Stimulab can be seen in a wider context, because the establishing of Stimulab itself can be seen as a reminder of the need for innovation, using service design to be user-friendly. Positive feedback from those who have participated can stimulate other services both to apply for support and to start innovation program themselves. Stimulab has got to be a symbol for user-oriented innovations in public services.

Challenges & Bottlenecks

In the projects supported so far, Stimulab`s activities have mainly been in the initiating phase. Stimulab`s platform is to be an active facilitator, who stimulates co-creation between public services and private enterprises. What they offer and demand is the active use of service design and of spending time in the beginning of the process, to understand and diagnose the situation. Seen together we are left with the impression that the main attention has been given to the procedures, to conduct the service design process properly. No recipes were given for the implementation process, and the actors had to apply for additional financing for this stage. The floor was left to the project-owners and the private consultants. But the project owner could stop the implementation when the money ran out. Lack of money and extra funding can therefore be a barrier for the implementation of good and innovative ideas. Support money can be given (after application), but cannot be taken for granted, and they may not be sufficient. It may give non-stimulating signals to the rest of public sector, if several of the initiated projects crash before they have given any results. If the interest for service design driven innovations should grow fast, the economic support frame will need to be scaled up.

Transferability & Replicability

The models and principles of service design can easily be transferred and replicated in all other parts of the public sector.

Success Factors

The success factors were the needs among the applicants to find new solutions, the possibility of economic support, and the inclusion of dialogue processes in the initiation phase of the projects.

Lessons learned

Public services need assistance to start and implement innovation processes where service design is meant to be an important part of the project. To make sure that initiated project can be realised, a project leadership – that is responsible for the whole project, from initiation to implementation, and has a realistic plan for financing it – is necessary.