( FAQ )

What is a public innovation lab ?

A public innovation lab consists of a team set up within the services of regional/local government to propose new methods for designing and implementing public policies. The goal of the lab is to better account for the needs of users, to break down in-house barriers and to facilitate working across all the public services departments. Innovation labs may take various forms and assume a variety of functions: horizon scanning and foresight activities, ethnographic approaches, rapid prototyping, experimentation, the leading of creative workshops, the dissemination of practices and organization of training, etc.

What is La Transfo ?

The La Transfo Source Code forms part of La 27e Région’s La transfo program; it is designed to help regional/local public services create their own innovation unit, focusing on innovation/transformation based on the experience of the users. The experimental lab is supported by a group of public agents, the “ambassadors”, who represent the diversity of professions of a public administration. This experimental program was conducted from 2016 to 2020 in partnership with seven public authorities (the cities of Mulhouse, Paris, Dunkirk and surrounding urban area, the Metropolis of Lille, Strasbourg, Metz and the Region of Occitanie), and was co-funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies. In each city/region, a multi-disciplinary team of three or four persons, the “residents”, led two- to three-day work sessions every month with the public agents for a 16- to 18-month period. The sessions were focused on practical cases based on real issues encountered in the city/region; these served as the test bench for the future laboratory and/or as its blueprint. Encounters among the various public services, called Inter-Transfos, were organized throughout program duration, so that all could participate in the program, exchange ideas and build and share knowledge together.
The entire initiative was openly documented and the work produced is open source content that is accessible on this blog.

What is the 27e Région ?

With an associative status, la 27e Région inspires and invents the services, administrations and courses for public action of tomorrow. It is a lab set up to change public policy and an independent association proposing a multi-disciplinary, deliberative and experimental space to build desirable futures for public action. Via action-research projects and knowledge sharing, the association promotes experimentation and a trial-and-error approach to public action, tests new services, tools, methods and forms of organization with public administrations and seeks alternatives to dominant ideologies governing the transformation of public policy. To accomplish this, la 27e Région mobilizes concepts inspired by design, the social sciences and alternative movements (do-it-yourself projects, an open source culture, adult education actions) and is backed by a community of practitioners and public agents located throughout France. It acts, at the same time, as the initiator, the leader and the facilitator of the La Transfo program and has initiated creation of the “La Transfo Source Code” site. To learn more: http://www.la27eregion.fr/en/.

What is public policy design ?

Design is a creative means for devising products and services focused on users. It’s a method, but also a way of thinking about and of understanding projects. Beyond the “designers’, the concept of design concerns all those who apply an iterative, transforming innovation logic focused on the user, and is accompanied by high expectations for understanding and for the esthetics of what is produced. In this context, the design of public policies points to a multi-disciplinary and collective approach and to a set of methods allowing for questioning public policies anew, starting from the standpoint of its users/citizens. This is accomplished by associating the users with trials and simulations and by developing prototypes of solutions that could be deployed later on with better chances of success.

Who are the Transfo’s ambassadors and residents ?

In every procedure for setting up the experimental lab, a group of 20 volunteer agents are mandated to follow the action from beginning to end: these are the “ambassadors”. They participate in each work session, assist in developing the innovation lab and take part in carrying out its practical applications (cases). A multi-disciplinary unit composed of three experienced professionals is appointed by La 27e Région to conduct La Transfo within the regional/local authority; these are the “residents”.

What do we refer as a “work session” and “practical case” ?

The protocol for conducting the experimental lab comprises two major components: work sessions and practical cases. Sessions consist of 2- to 3- day work periods that either take place in the municipality’s or region’s offices or on sites linked to the practical cases being tested. Both the residents and the ambassador agents participate in these sessions. Practical cases consist of specific projects developed by the program participants during the work sessions.