Summary report on the first learning event for the TIP Resource Lab: members and partners joined practitioners and researchers from around the world last month to preview this new online platform, which will will showcase tools, actions and learning from more than five years of experimentation with Transformative Innovation Policy.
The TIP Resource Lab will offer practical tools and resources for implementing TIP methods, and share learnings from the journey of TIPC members, associated members and partners across Latin America, Africa, Europe and Asia. The Lab also links to academic research that drives TIP thinking about the nature of society and processes of change.
TIPC is launching the Lab through a series of learning events. This summary report covers the first of these, which took place on 22 July 2022:
Ninety-six people joined the live learning event, with registrations from 35 countries and a variety of organisations – including STI agencies, knowledge communities, intergovernmental organisations, universities and consultancies. Most participants were from TIPC’s hub regions in Africa, Latin America and Europe, with further registrations from East Asia, South Asia, North America and Australasia. This made for a rich cohort of diverse participants, all working on transformative policy approaches in very different contexts, and keen to share their experience and learnings.
The first part of the workshop kicked off with a random break-out session, so that attendees could connect and discuss their interests in the theme. This was also an important step in building trust, as participants would later be invited to work together in small groups to test some of the tools.
The networking slot was followed by an introduction to the Lab with Vicky Shaw. Vicky also shared the premise for the new network of coaches, which will be established to help put the tools and resources into practice.
Ed Steinmueller then set out the aims for the Lab. The project is a cornerstone of the TIPC programme and seeks to respond to the need for alternative methods for policy intervention for ‘Third Frame’ innovation policy orientated towards systems change to meet social needs.
Ed explained how the Lab will translate research, experimentation and learning across member regions into practice, in order to operationalise Third Frame. It will offer an entry point to those who have not been part of the TIPC experience to date, and consolidate advanced materials for those who are familiar with the concepts and are working at a deeper level.
The Lab, and each component within it, will be accompanied by a user guide, which provides a narrative journey through the questions, processes, case studies and tools.
Bipashyee Ghosh then took the group through of the architecture for Component 1, which organises material into four sections, each containing a number of resource collections:
- Understanding the system
- Developing a vision for change
- Anticipation for a different future
- Transformative theory of change
Bipashyee outlined the value in sociotechnical system mapping – not only to identify the elements with a system, but also to see the connections and alignments between them that enforce existing, often unsustainable ways of meeting a societal need.
She explained the importance of niches in TIP thinking as spaces that carry alternative rules, and to allow interventions and choices that can create and nurture alternative technologies, rules and social networks. She also addressed the role of anticipation and futures in nurturing alternative visions and guiding policy makers on which niches to protect.
Finally, Bipashyee described how the Lab captures TIPC experiences of building transformative theories of change: a non-linear and context-dependent process, involving the learning and unlearning of project partners along the way.
The first part of the workshop concluded with a walk-through the Lab website by Geraldine Bloomfield, TIPC’s communications manager. The new site is now in a development phase, with ongoing work on the design, architecture and content. When it launches at the end of the year, users will be able to access hundreds of tools, resources and materials, including videos, infographics, collaborative learning exercises, research papers, blogs and case studies.
Attendees at the workshop were given special access to the development site for 10 days, and invited to test the content as it goes up and share comments and feedback on the materials.
Part II: Testing tools for Transformative Innovation Policy
After a short break, participants entered one of two groups for a 90-minute session testing the following new Miro tools:
- Pentagonal map for system analysis
- Multi-level theory of change
The former has been created as an introductory exercise for those new to socio-technical system thinking, while the multi-level tool is better suited to those with prior understanding of transitions theory. A snapshot of this experience will be added to the resource collection accompanying the tool.
Part III: Network of coaches
Around half of the participants returned for Part III of the workshop: the first discussion meeting for the network of coaches. This is a group of practitioners and researchers who wish to develop their understanding of the Lab content, and help put the materials into practical use for the development and evaluation of transformative policies, projects and programmes.
The TIP methodology is, above all, flexible and experimental and the continued customisation of tools and resources and diversity of interpretations across different contexts will help to enrich future thinking and practice. This new initiative aims to scale up policy experimentation and learning across different organisational and geographical contexts.
In advance of the first meeting, coaches had shared their motivations for being part of the network. These comments, which also evidenced the diversity and wealth of expertise, could be categorised under the following aims:
- To develop skills and capabilities in Transformative Innovation Policy (TIP)
- To work on practical application of TIP
- To strengthen peer learning and networking across different settings and regions
- To support research into TIP or researcher capacity development
Coaches were first invited to join another small breakout group for networking and reflection on the testing sessions. The purpose of this was to facilitate new peer learning connections.
Coaches then completed a short survey to share thoughts on how to meet the expectations listed above, providing feedback on how much time they could commit, the activities they would find most valuable and their preferred communication channels.
The group also shared comments in plenary. This included proposals to focus discussion of the Lab around more concrete projects, programmes or policies.
The Resource Lab team will incorporate the responses into the design of the next meeting, which will take place on 13 September after the workshop on Component 2. New group channels have been set up in the meantime to facilitate continued engagement.