An experimental framework Set up an experimental partnership-based framework Set up an experimental partnership-based framework Set up an experimental partnership-based framework

Sheet 01 OF 07

Initial assumption

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  • (cr) Co-responsibility
  • (a) Independence of the team
  • (sa) Rust and freedom of action for the public agents

Staying on course. The success of a co-building approach to setting up the experimental lab implies creating a propitious environment for experimentation in terms of co-responsibility, the independence of the team, of professionals mandated to lead the lab (the residents) and establishing an atmosphere of rust and freedom of action for the public agents embarked on implementing the lab’s actions (the ambassadors). Success also depends on the municipality’s commitment to following through the work initiated by La Transfo.


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The experimental and partnership-based framework is ensured by:

The type of contract

(a partnership experimentation agreement signed between La 27e Région and each partner municipality/region), and its contents

The co-funding :

Program co-funded by the municipalities/regions engaged in La Transfo and the financing of a private foundation

voyages d'étude des villes transfo

The trans-local dimension :

The inter-municipality/region dimension of the program and its open documentation (blog, public exhibitions, etc.)

The dual coordination role

eplayed by La 27e Région and the municipality’s/region’s “leader” agent


The adherence of local authorities to La 27e Région

which strengthens the partnership aspect (participation in the governance and in the directions taken by La 27e Région) and integration into a community of professionals engaged in similar protocols

Lessons learned

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A protocol that is respected

All local and regional authorities that have engaged in the La Transfo program have respected the general protocol: around 20 agents have been made available and mobilized; the professionals mandated to accompany the initiative have not been restricted in any way in designing and leading the sessions; the uncertainty linked to the experimental and progressive nature of the approach has been accepted (to a certain extent).

The pressure to obtain results

In reality, it is difficult to reconcile the program’s ambition with its cost to the municipality/region in regard to the trial-and-error approach and the testing inherent in experimentation. It was consequently necessary to remind the participating authorities, several times and at various stages of the program, of the initiative’s experimental framework. The executive branch, for instance, like the agents, often expressed high expectations regarding the results of practical cases, forgetting that the role of the latter is above all to test new methods for taking action and possible ways of operating for the future lab.

An imperfect understanding of the context

Creating a framework that is truly partnership-based means clarifying the expectations of each partner, as needed. In some of La Transfos, the discussions held before protocol startup were not enough to allow La 27e Région to understand the reasons why the authority’s executive branch wished to participate in the program and the organizational, managerial and political context in which La Transfo was situated.

The complicated role of the in-house leader

The role of the “in-house leader” illustrates the difficulty of the municipality/region to assume the program’s experimental and partnership-based framework: should this person be presented as the future director of the lab although the idea is to co-build it (including its team and leadership) during and as a result of La Transfo? Is this person above all responsible for organizing and facilitating the participation of his/her colleagues and/or is he/she an ambassador among others who must also fully participate in the work sessions? Is he/she the associate of the “residents” who are leading the initiative (including in their posture of “well-meaning” hacking of the institution) and/or the representative of the authority’s general management acting as the liaison with La 27e Région?


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☛  Challenge 001 A La Transfo still more experimental and partnership-based set up in two municipalities in a given area/region at the same time?

☛  Challenge 002 A La Transfo version designed jointly for elected officials and the administration, which would imply naming elected officials as “ambassadors”?

☛  Challenge 003 A “well-meaning preliminary” of La Transfo with the authority’s executive management, to identify an operating method in order to clarify the context and formulate the expectations of decision-makers before starting the program



( General Delegate )

Stéphane Vincent, General Delegate of La 27e Région (FR).

A multi-disciplinary approach Establish a multi-disciplinary approach Establish a multi-disciplinary approach Establish a multi-disciplinary approach Establish a multi-disciplinary approach

Sheet 02 OF 07

Initial assumption

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  • (c) Design
  • (ss) Social sciences
  • (pa) Alternative practices

Fine-tune the machine. La Transfo has opted for a multi-disciplinary approach, the objective being to create a lab based on a variety of viewpoints and to develop concrete methods to be implemented by the future lab for accompanying projects, setting up training programs, producing resources, etc., methods that are at the crossroads of design, the social sciences et des alternative practices (Do It Yourself, adult education, culture makers).


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For each Transfo, a multi-disciplinary approach was achieved and implemented by teams of three professionals (generally composed of two seniors and one junior), with representation of two disciplines. Within the scope of the program, seven such multi-disciplinary teams were set up.


This entails taking an experimental stance and structuring the design and innovation procedure focussing on uses-based innovation / transformation.

  • Design of a service:

    • (1) Reformulate subjects as design issues (e.g., how can access to a mechanism combating energy insecurity be improved?).
    • (2) Globally structure the method for implementing practical applications / cases.
    • (3) Develop a systematic approach to identify current uses and their challenges.
  • Industrial design:

    Call in specific know-how (prototyping).

  • Graphic design:

    Call in specific know-how (graphic layouts).

design and prototype


Treat the group and the participants with respect

  • Preserve the group dynamics and follow up the individual development of the agents engaged in the initiative.
  • Methodologically strengthen leadership capacities.
coaching in Paris


Organize and put into perspective the investigative / survey work, create reflexivity, understand what needs to be changed in the organization

  • Account for the specificity of the publics addressed and the social mechanisms at work in relation to the issues raised in the practical cases.
  • Specifically investigate what will be entailed in accompanying the changes needed (identify blocking points, levers, etc.).
  • methodologically strengthen field investigations (interviews, observations, etc.) and research contributions.
ethnography and sociological survey

Urban policies

Account for the political context:

  • Understand the interaction of players in-house, identify opportunities and risks in terms of the political agenda in order to successfully implement the practical cases set up and the strategy for the future lab
  • Strengthen horizon scanning in methodological fashion, build narratives
dream team in Paris

Adult education

Support learning opportunities and the emancipation of persons in view of encouraging social change

  • Work on group dynamics to more fully grasp the situation and restore the group’s power to take action.
  • Develop teaching tools and methodologically build leadership capabilities

Lessons learned

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An initiative dominated by design

Given that design was by far the dominating method employed in the teams and in the initial experimental framework focussed on lab design and given the extensive similarities in the methodologies implemented in all the La Transfos in setting up their practical cases, it can be concluded that La Transfo is a program dominated by design, the other disciplines acting in support of this basic discipline or in counterpoint to it.

The design / reflexivity combination

The strong representation of reflexivity postures (sociologist, political scientist, adult education practitioners) acting as a “secondary” capability has demonstrated the interest of associating critical approaches to the practices of design, primarily in regard to defining the laboratory. The professionals who worked together on the project developed a tendency to continue their cooperative efforts (in four La Transfo teams out of seven).

Investigate other formats for involvement

In some instances, residents who were not designers expressed their frustration concerning their individual input. The means for involving these profiles could perhaps be mixed with other formats in order to deepen their involvement (for example, as regards investigation methods, data processing, etc.), or in regard to project evaluation, etc.


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☛  Challenge 001 Associate with the initiative an instructional design specialist to experiment with other formats and investigate in greater depth the intersection between innovation in teaching practices and the transformation of administrations.

☛  Challenge 002 Constitute a pool of multi-disciplinary professionals participating on an occasional basis to support the design team, and bring into the pool new fields of specialization (for example, the neurosciences, psycho-social risks, community organizing).




Mireille Diestchy (sociologist, researcher associated with the University of Strasbourg and teacher at the In Situ Lab and at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure d’architecture de Strasbourg – state school of architecture in Strasbourg) and Chloë Dupuy (designer, co-founder of Ateliers RTT), both La Transfo residents in Strasbourg (FR)

Pace program rollout Pace program rollout Pace program rollout Pace program rollout Pace program rollout Pace program rollout Pace program rollout

Sheet 03 OF 07

Initial assumption

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  • (a) Flexibility
  • (pa) Principle of acupuncture

Guarantee user comfort. The premise of the program is to proceed according to the principle of acupuncture : give new life to an organism by acting frugally, but regularly, on some of its specific points and at a small scale. The duration and frequency of these actions should be such that the acculturation of 20 agent ambassadors is integrated, a group dynamic involving the same group of persons has been created and the lab has been co-built. The premise of the program also concerns flexibility: since program rollout took place bit by bit, it was possible to decide collectively whether to pursue or stop a practical case, take advantage of a new opportunity, leave more room for an educational/learning dimension, etc.


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A regular intervention over a year and a half

La Transfo was organized in the form of 14 sessions held two to three consecutive days each month over a 16- to 18-month period (accounting for a break in the summer) and involved around twenty agents.

a giant timeline to set the rhythm of the sessions

Three types of working sessions

  • Working on concrete practical cases, with one to four sessions generally dedicated to each.
  • Co-building the future lab and preparing the agents, which was an on-going process throughout the 14 sessions, but the pace of which accelerated towards the end of La Transfo
  • Learning periods, the pace and format of which varied in relation to the different La Transfos
set the rhythm of summer with practical exercises

Customized adjustments

  • Longer total duration and sessions more widely spaced (Mulhouse)
  • Inter-session periods organized for the agents (Mulhouse, Lille, Metz) and “homework” to do between sessions (Mulhouse)
  • Final sessions transformed into “training module” days for a smaller number of agents and only for those who wished to participate (Occitanie)
  • DSessions held without the ambassadors, but with the R&D team (Lille)

Lessons learned

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From the standpoint of acculturation to the challenges and methods for public transformation

the duration of the program left sufficient time for the ambassador agents to discover, experiment, obtain a critical eye, gain perspective on the specifics of the municipality and on other public innovation lab experiments, etc. It also allowed for carrying out various tests and for taking advantage of any opportunities that cropped up, with some practical cases turned more towards learning/apprenticeship and others that changed into proof-of-concept trials with a particularly conclusive result (which is often difficult to anticipate!). The duration also allowed for leadership of the future lab to emerge.

From the standpoint of mobilizing the ambassador agents and of creating a group dynamic

the duration and pace of the program were hard to maintain in all the La Transfos: workloads of agents without specific posts, changes in posts (or even in municipality), a decline in motivation, etc. This was confirmed in the final sessions, where participation was spotty, and attendance reduced to around ten persons.

From the standpoint of co-building the lab

the pace of the sessions did not necessarily correspond to the time required for thinking about the lab, for engaging in negotiations and for taking any decisions concerning it. The fast pace at the end of La Transfo in particular, with sessions focussed on the future lab organized quite close together, turned out to be very restrictive and occurred too fast to allow the administration to organize itself and form validations.

From the standpoint of organizing the work of the residents (the professionals mandated to lead the initiative)

the duration and pace of the program allowed for understanding the authority’s organization, its culture and in-house geopolitics and for identifying its challenges. The fast pace was nonetheless highly restrictive, making it hard to take a step back for an objective look and for the residents to organize work between sessions, and namely in order to schedule work in the field (the drawback of flexibility!); this led to a lack of visibility and the incapacity to project into the future, to anticipate the results of practical cases, for instance, etc.


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☛  Set up a modular La Transfo : nine months of conventional sessions and six months during which priorities can be redefined, and the pace totally reviewed in relation to the lab’s needs: engage and train a new group of ambassador agents, mobilize, train and structure a group of future team members and/or lab contributors, emphasize the co-building of specific aspects of the lab, the consolidation of political and managerial support, etc.

Involve and train the public agents Involve and train the public agents Involve and train the public agents Involve and train the public agents Involve and train the public agents

Sheet 04 OF 07

Initial assumption

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  • (aa) Volunteer public agents
  • (fa) Action-training
  • (ic) Collective intelligence

Choose a good transmission system. To avoid building a lab that doesn’t touch ground, i.e., that isn’t supported by the municipality’s/region’s resources (especially human) and that is not known, recognized and/or understood by the public agents, the La Transfo experiment is based on the intensive involvement of a group of 20 volunteer public agents coming from various municipal services and ensuring different functions: the ambassadors. Throughout the program the ambassadors are trained in using innovative methods and tools on actual practical cases (training-action, learning by doing, progressive empowerment) and brainstorm together about the operating procedures to be set up for the future lab.


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group cohesion exercises with the ambassadors - Strasbourg

A relative diversity of profile

  • An open call : the call for volunteers before La Transfo startup made it possible for each municipality/region to compose a rather diverse and motivated group to participate in the experiment.
  • A concern for balance : where candidates were more numerous than the number of places available (this occurred in less than half the La Transfos), fine-combing was carried out to ensure that the maximum number of departments and professions were represented, ensuring gender parity and a balance between job categories (A, B and C).
  • A format that speaks to the executive ? However, in several La Transfos, the group of agents was composed for the majority of A employees and of women. Moreover, C agents represented the highest percentage of program “dropouts” over the course of a project, having perhaps had a harder time finding their place in the group.
user immersion - Occitanie

Different level of group openness

  • A second circle : in Mulhouse, a 2nd circle, composed of around twenty agents and managers, the “Relays”, were associated with the program in regular fashion without participating in all the sessions
  • A “direct superior” group : also in Mulhouse, a group of “N+1” ambassadors was formed to offer a space for discussing the HR dimension of the agents’ involvement
  • An open group : in Dunkerque and Strasbourg, due to a lack of a sufficient number of candidates at program startup, the group of ambassadors remained open to new agents throughout La Transfo, and was thus continually renewed
  • A semi-professional group : in Lille, the agents of the R&D department, whose jobs all relate to an innovative approach (open data, collective intelligence, gender equality) joined the group of ambassadors during program rollout
ideation workshop in Occitania

Different focusses

  • On group life and collective intelligence : this took place in Paris and was encouraged by one of the residents leading the initiative who is an urban planner and coach; this focus played a major part in the experiment, with time set aside for it in parallel to the training-action activities centred on practical cases and to co-building the lab.
  • On training : in Mulhouse and in the Occitanie Région, tools supporting the educational aspect of the experiment were made available, and included inter-session exercises and “vacation homework” (Mulhouse) and modules for learning in more depth about specific subjects in smaller, La Transfo+ groups, (Occitanie).
the group of ambassador agents in Lille

Nurturing personal path

For a few agents embarked on the initiative, La Transfo marked a change in career: the opportunity for a new position or the acceleration of professional changes already nascent, or the setting up of new work methods within their own team.

creative watch in Lille

Lessons learned

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The strength of the collective

The involvement of the ambassadors was key to creating a group dynamic and to ensuring an across-the-board approach. Encouraging a group of agents (including blue collar workers) to work together, bypassing silos and hierarchies, is a vector for innovation and cooperation. Their intimate knowledge of the workings of their administration made it possible to account for the context in conducting the practical cases and in building the lab.

A lack of clarity regarding the objectives

The status of the program and its objectives are not always clearly understood: is the task first of all to train the agents or to carry out innovation projects (the practical cases) ?
The training element is not fully complete; there is no validation of the skills/knowledge acquired, no official recognition by the respective HR departments. The program caused discomfort for some agents (no recognition/support from their direct superiors nor from their colleagues).

The thorny question of scale

Is 20 agents the right number? At the scale of a major urban area, the ripple effect remains limited and the actions deployed may even be seen as privileged, as belonging to a “club”.


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☛  Challenge 001 Set up a certification or validation procedure by human resources for the skills/knowledge acquired by the ambassadors.

☛  Challenge 002 Make it easier to integrate new agents into the program to disseminate practices by organizing a system of sponsors.



( lab coordinator )

Interview Sébastien Houssin, coordinator of the innovation lab of the city and surrounding urban community of Mulhouse (FR)

Work on the basis of concrete cases Work on the basis of concrete cases Work on the basis of concrete cases Work on the basis of concrete cases Work on the basis of concrete cases

Sheet 05 OF 07

Initial assumption

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  • (m) Mobilizing
  • (i) Impacts
  • (a) Adhesion and enthusiasm
  • (tc) Transfer capabilities
  • (pp) Political support
  • (pe) External partnerships
  • (fl) Test the operating methods

Fill the tank with gas. La Transfo proposes concrete actions to make the program effective and consequently largely focusses on practical cases, i.e., on real projects of the municipality/region so as to test and train the agents in new ways of designing new or improving existing mechanisms, and in this way prefigure the future lab through experimentation. The work on practical cases is thus designed to transfer capabilities to the ambassador agents, fostering their adhesion and enthusiasm at the same time, and also to elicit political support, mobilizing managersand other agents (including non-managerial staff) and creating external partnerships. In parallel, the focus of the initiative is on demonstrating the impact that these new ways of doing have on public policies (with concrete follow-up) and to test the operating methods set up for the future lab.


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Practical cases were selected and sized to meet various requirements, accounting for the rollout of La Transfo, the group dynamic, prior experiments and relations with the rest of the community. A few emblematic cases representing the diversity of the strategies adopted are provided below.

Metz, Mobility and wellbeing in the workplace

How can the uses of the local government’s fleet of bikes be improved? This was the subject of the 1st practical case investigated by La Transfo Metz. On the basis of a survey, the ambassadors steered the practical case towards mobility possibilities that were more respectful of the environment and that promoted wellbeing at work.

This practical case is a good example of an ambassador group acting on its own initiative in relation to an issue in-house, and provided the opportunity to train the agents on the entire methodological process of designing a service.

Mobility and wellbeing in Metz

Lille, the “Brico-Concierge”

The 1st La Transfo case investigated in Lille was Amélio, a scheme set up to accompany and finance renovation works in homes to lower energy consumption in the metropolitan area of Lille. The goal of this practical case was to improve recourse to this scheme, which was being under-used. Working on the case led to two experiments, one concerning a mediation mechanism (a housing health card) and the second a proximity service (the “Brico-Concierge”, or a neighborhood of handiworkers).

This practical case is a good example of a case that was heavily appropriated by the sponsoring department, which subsequently used the work carried out by La Transfo to test the two mechanisms at real scale, with a lighter accompanying mechanism for the second phase.

Amelio's case in Lille

Mulhouse, the “mégotiers”

Designed and tested within the scope of the second case investigated by La Transfo in Mulhouse, the “mégotiers” consisted of an ensemble of mobile cigarette disposal units installed to discourage the throwing of cigarette butts onto the city streets and sidewalks. Tested by agents of the city and the surrounding urban area, the cigarette disposal units proved successful and have since been installed throughout the city center.

This practical case is a good example of a case with a high prototyping and testing component; it largely involved agents in the field and had a direct impact on inter-public services cooperation.

cas megotiers à Mulhouse

Strasbourg, school enrollment

This was the 2nd practical case investigated at La Transfo Strasbourg; its goal was to assist the Childhood and Education Directorate in renewing its software managing school and extra-curricular-related enrollments. The task was to provide input for the software specifications by exploring needs and by coming to a better understanding of current practices.

This practical case is a good example of a case focussing on a digital mechanism, with a highly operational input (software specification input) to be used directly by the service initiating the work.

school enrollment in Strasbourg

Paris, tree bases

Following a practical case on a citizen-related mechanism, La Transfo Paris decided to tackle an in-house issue: improving the procedure for managing the bases of trees. To work on this highly technical subject, La Transfo proposed mapping the procedure, starting with the testimonies of the various players and services involved in tree base management. After a few sessions, La Transfo drew up a blueprint detailing a procedure far more complex than one would think.

This practical case is a good example of highly targeted work carried out on the vast and delicate subject of internal re-organization.

cas pieds d'arbres à Paris

Dunkerque the “Bois des Forts”

The last practical case investigated by La Transfo Dunkerque concerned changing the practices for handling and the means for managing urban green spaces/wooded areas, starting with a specific green space, the “Bois des Forts”. The objective was to identify margins for improving the management of these woods and to devise a management scheme in which the technical agents, administrative services and the inhabitants-users could all participate.

Conducted almost completely independently by the ambassadors, this practical case is a good example of a case that overlaps the end of La Transfo and the beginning of the lab operating on its own.

bois des forts in Dunkerque

Lessons learned

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Practical cases serving as test benches for the future labs

There is no ideal way to capitalize on La Transfo to conduct a practical case, nor is there any typical deliverable. In fact, the La Transfo experimental framework is best used for testing a variety of methods for future lab operation (being called in on a practical case, following the directive of a decision-maker or that of a managing entity, or acting on its initiative, etc.), and in regard to multiple subjects (digital project, in-house organization, innovation of a service, an administrative procedure, etc.), to various goals (improve recourse to a mechanism, develop a new service, become more aware of practices, build shared visions for changing a service, etc.) and to different work methods (immersion in the field, prototyping and testing, debugging workshops, etc.). It is only by experimenting with a variety of situations (and thus encountering failure from time to time) that La Transfo can discern, little by little, what works well in the administrative context in which it is found.

The problem of producing and training simultaneously

There is often only a very fine line between practical exercise and real project. This ambiguity has been felt in all La Transfos. In reality, the cursor keeps moving throughout the program: the first cases work particularly well when there is a significant element of learning involved because this allows for setting up a reference framework and for garnering common knowledge regarding what can precisely be called a public innovation project. As the initiative progresses, the importance of producing results increases, to both reassure the agents involved of the interest of these methods and to maintain a good level of motivation, and just as importantly to engage the managing entities in the initiative and make them want to renew the experiment.

A few conditions to ensure the success of a case

In all instances, practical cases work better when various conditions are fulfilled before the case is launched :

  • The experimental nature of the practical case must be shared with the sponsors of the initiative
    which is different from an in-house advisory task. Time must be set aside to explain the experimental framework of La Transfo to those sponsoring the initiative, so as to clearly identify the educational goals, the timeline restrictions, the non-obligation to obtain results, etc. This has often proved salutary in avoiding disappointment.
  • Ensure the level of commitment of the initiative sponsor :
    one of the specifics of practical cases is the involvement of agents from the department sponsoring the case. It is important to explain the manner in which the agents and partners of the department concerned will be mobilized (presence during the initial immersion sessions, during the presentation of results, etc.).
  • Verify the case’s technical and political support :
    sometimes a subject that is highly supported by decision-makers faces a complex administrative reality. (For example the subject of recruiting unusual profiles, backed politically, may be viewed as a non-priority by HR management or by teams that have identified other issues they consider more important.) The work of La Transfo risks being poorly perceived and poorly experienced if this support is absent and the results will have little chance of being appropriated.
  • Clearly define the work of La Transfo on a given subject :
    the risk exists of remaining “stuck” on a practical case, which undermines the enthusiasm of the participating agents and prohibits working with a variety departments and on a range of subjects. To avoid this, the task must be clearly defined from the very start, identifying where work on the practical case ends (number of sessions, expected production, educational/training objectives, etc.). Sometimes cases are continued (for instance when a public service wishes to test one of the mechanisms devised during La Transfo brainstorming sessions); in this event, accompanying the project is often a much lighter task and is carried out in parallel with the deployment of other practical cases.


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☛  Challenge 001 Find a way to heighten the involvement of elected officials in practical cases, either by positioning them as case sponsors, or by involving them in the methodological steps followed in implementing a case.

☛  Challenge 002 Think about what comes after a practical case: devise a way to accompany the department that sponsored a practical case in appropriating and applying the work of La Transfo on real projects.

Find support from the ecosystem Find support from the existing ecosystem Find support from the existing ecosystem Find support from the existing ecosystem Find support from the existing ecosystem

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Initial assumption

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  • (di) In-house procedures
  • (ae) Players outside the authority

Signal other drivers. So that the future lab is not viewed by public agents as not touching ground, as being isolated or as having been set up to erase whatever exists, La Transfo offers a propitious framework for weaving ties with the innovation ecosystem that already exists within and around the local/regional authority. This concerns both in-house procedures, for which the approach is centered on practices, and players outside the authority who participate in the public innovation momentum (associations, service providers, universities, etc.). The creation of the laboratory corresponds to the ambition to set to music, provide support for, provide governance of and to form mutually strengthening ties between these elements. From this viewpoint, the very essence of La Transfo is to plant the seeds for future cooperative efforts. Carrying out practical cases, organizing presentation times to the public and co-building the lab all contribute to widening and diversifying the circle of agents appropriating the procedure. La Transfo also contributes to consolidating a dynamic innovation ecosystem at the scale of a region by creating ties with design schools, political science schools, etc., and to identifying potential resources and partnerships for the future lab during the La Transfo initiative.


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Given the fast pace of the program, priority is placed, in the majority of La Transfos, on capacity building for the group of agents engaged in co-building the lab, in detriment to establishing ties with in-house and external ecosystems, even though this varied in relation to the context of each La Transfo:

In relation to in-house ecosystems

In Lille and Mulhouse, this took the form of an “innovation” group mobilized specifically to co-build the lab.

  • In Lille, the group was composed of agents who were already involved in innovative initiatives or of services that were the potential partners of the future lab (citizen participation, innovative times and services office, innovative funding, etc.).
  • In Mulhouse, lab discussions took place with Tuba and the Agence de la participation (participation agency), and in the end the lab was set up in the offices of Tuba.
meeting with the agents in Mulhouse

With other local stakeholders

In Lille, La Transfo built synergies with the World design capital 2020 organization, which then got ready to accompany specific projects, prefigure exhibition spaces through temporary occupation of vacant spaces, etc.

Several encounters were also organized with the local community of players in the field of social and digital innovation and a workshop for co-building the lab was organized within the framework of Roumics (Rencontres OUvertes du Multimédia et de l’Internet Citoyen et Solidaire – Open encounters between multimedia and the citizen and solidarity internet).

inspiring visit to Lille

In the Grand Est Region

the La Transfos of Metz and Strasbourg started to organize, together with the region’s innovation unit and the Mulhouse lab, an inter-regional network of public labs: shared horizon scanning, sharing of service provider contacts, sharing of practices employed on projects, etc.

exhibition format in Paris

In Dunkirk

The future lab formed part of a new administration project launched before startup of La Transfo, alongside other innovation programs

(citizen participation resource center, mechanism for channeling the ideas of agents to their superiors, collaborative workshops, etc.), and the question of how to coordinate them all was raised several times.

Lessons learned

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The problem of finding room for La Transfo in a rich in-house ecosystem

La Transfo sometimes came up against multiple and scattered innovation initiatives conducted within the municipalities/regions; this was primarily the case for the biggest authorities (Paris, Occitanie Région), where it was difficult to identify and make contact with these initiatives and their sponsoring departments and to structure the relationship with them. In Occitanie as in Paris, the creation of a project management entity grouping together the lab and several other initiatives (Open Data, Sustainable city and participative innovation in Paris, Managerial innovation and citizen participation in Occitanie) provided an initial response to this problem even though in reality cooperating on and conducting shared projects with these programs remained limited.

The key role of persons

The building of an in-house innovation ecosystem based on the future lab (or in connection with it) came about, in the end, as a result of the participation of agents sponsoring La Transfo’s innovative initiatives, acting either as ambassadors or as the leaders/managers of a practical case. For example in Paris, the task officer in charge of innovation with the Social affairs directorate was an active ambassador of La Transfo and helped establish privileged ties between the future lab and the managerial staff of this office. Similarly, in Strasbourg, strong ties were made with the Innovative times and services taskforce and with the managers of the digital project, which were sponsored respectively by an in-house manager and a La Transfo ambassador.

The need for a long period of time to set up cooperative programs

Creating knowledge sharing/interchange followed by establishing the means for cooperating requires considerable time, which has proved incompatible with the pace of the La Transfo sessions. The time set aside for encounters among the sponsors of innovative initiatives organized within several La Transfos was more or less successful because it is hard to juggle multiple agendas. The substantive work carried out by some of the in-house leaders, outside the sessions, to meet with these in-house and external innovation players and to devise ways for working together or for pooling information was undoubtedly more effective and merits being pursued within the scope of the lab.


MAY 04 2020

( No Model ) N°. 006.004

☛  Challenge 001 Set up a La Transfo with a group composed of in-house innovators (managerial or HR innovators, task officers in charge of citizen’s projects, open data task officers, etc.).

☛  Challenge 002 Set up a La Transfo with other players in the community/region to create a mixed work group composed of in-house agents and external partners .

☛  Challenge 003 Incorporate in the program’s DNA the ambition for the lab to become a tool shared with an open governance involving the entire in-house and external ecosystem.



( coordinator, task officer )

Interview with Silvère Mercier, coordinator of La Transfo and task officer of the new lab (FR):

Anticipating for the future lab Anticipating for the future lab Anticipating for the future lab Anticipating for the future lab Anticipating for the future lab

Sheet 07 OF 07

Initial assumption

MAY 04 2020

( No Model ) N°. 007.001



  • (tf) Testing assumptions
  • (td) Session time devoted
  • (cs) Strategic choices

Look far ahead. The experience garnered as a result of conducting practical cases has allowed for testing assumptions for future lab. operation. In consequence, the participating agents, together with the residents, have outlined the main directions to be taken by the future lab during session time devoted to this task, have involved other departments and have made strategic choices and identified resources based on their knowledge of how their administration operates.


04 MAI 2020

( No Model ) N°. 007.002

prefiguration workshop of the lab site in Lille

An iterative process

in all the La Transfos, the question of the lab was raised at different points in time: the first was to draft the overall expectations of the lab in terms of the service offered to the municipality/region, following by several successive times to fully develop the service offer, to set up lab organization in-house and to identify its reporting line, tools, physical location, stakeholders (teams and ambassadors) and budget.

A tool of the “lab plan” or “lab guide” type, which was further detailed as the work sessions advanced, often concretized this process. On average, six days were devoted to the future lab over the entire initiative, with an intensification of sessions towards the end of La Transfo.

le bureau du labo defusing preconceptions about labs in Dunkirk

Involve future users and lab associates in co-building the lab

The sessions devoted to co-building the future lab often take place associating a small group of agents and related departments with the group of ambassadors:

  • In Mulhouse, the discussions involved an innovation group composed of agents from the city’s citizen participation and living lab department.
  • In Lille, a “future lab group” composed of the R&D team, the citizen participation department and the team responsible for the new head office associated itself with La Transfo’s group of ambassador agents.
  • In Paris, an afternoon was devoted to building the future lab with two elected officials and the directors of several municipal departments; they were selected both because of their support given to the program and because their future collaboration with the lab will be significant.
thoughts on the letter of assignment in Paris

An exception to the rule

A lab that already exists

In the Occitanie Région, the lab already existed in the organization chart and consisted of a small team when La Transfo was started. The co-building exercise was focussed on the lab’s types of work and its means of communication and on constituting and operation of the lab network. A decorrelation occurred between the strategic choices tied to the existing lab (sizing of the team, its perimeter of action, its governance) and La Transfo, which resulted in making the existing lab more visible and concrete (initial practical cases = initial projects of the lab) and in making it widely known, namely via the work of the ambassadors.

round table on extreme labs in Metz

Lessons learned

MAY 04 2020

( No Model ) N°. 007.003

A decision-making process to be clarified and structured with the session work

In several La Transfos, the co-building work with the ambassadors came up against the reality of the municipality’s/region’s decision-making process. The questions of the lab’s resources (budget, human resources, etc.) and of its hierarchical and institutional reporting line were consequently discussed outside the sessions and directly by the leaders of the initiative (the residents) and/or the in-house leader with the authority’s general management or with the lab’s sponsoring department and sometimes even with an ad hoc steering committee. This situation sometimes caused a feeling of frustration or of incomprehension on the part of the ambassadors.
Moreover, the work of focussing on the future lab was too abstract a task for some ambassadors, which resulted in their imagining a lab modeled on the one they knew, La Transfo. Others tended to see the lab principally from their viewpoint as agents, from an extremely in-house position in support of their colleagues, or as organization consultants.

The notable absence of elected officials (and sometimes directors) in the initiative

Almost all La Transfos failed to engage any elected officials in conducting the practical cases and in devoting time to building the lab. In some municipalities/regions, the work carried out to convince and involve the directors was difficult and undoubtedly should have been handled as a separate subject entirely (with persons who had been identified, an action plan and a schedule).

Customized labs … but not that diversified

The labs created at the end of the La Transfo experiment share their principal features, which were generally present in the program protocol: lab reporting to the authority’s general management or to an across-the-board sponsoring department, operating methods inspired by design and the social sciences (user research, creative design, tests, etc.), the participation of non-fulltime agents (regular contributors to the lab), a role for spreading an innovation culture focussed on user-based innovation and experimentation… These labs therefore do not reflect lab models that are really different in terms of vision, operating methods and governance.


MAY 04 2020

( No Model ) N°. 007.004

☛  Challenge 001 And what if the future lab co-building time was opened to citizens ?

☛  Challenge 002 And what if one didn’t start from scratch, but from two or three different models of labs that would be tested during La Transfo ?


MAY 04 2020

( No Model ) N°. 007.005



( coordinator )

Pierre Roger, coordinator of the Dunkirk lab office (FR)