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Create a working basis

Prepare the working environment

Public innovation derives from participation, and this can take a variety of formats. In the course of the venture, the core team will want to involve others to generate knowledge and develop, test or advance interim outcomes. Various participation formats can be conducted to enable collaboration such as interviews or workshops. It is not only the extent of the cooperation that counts: quality is the most important factor. Thorough preparation is crucial here, too.

Create the space to enable effective work to take place

An adequate setting is essential for collaboration, enabling the kind of mental gymnastics that is required to come up with solid interim outcomes within a period of just a few hours. There are other arrangements to be made in addition to organizing the workshop itself. The rooms should be bright and fitted with mobile furniture so as to create flexible working situations and promote personal encounters between contributors as effectively as possible. This also includes arranging for common break times and providing healthy catering.

Important: All the elements of a successful workshop should be taken into account when planning the budget as part of the Process Flow.

Workshop Organization

Promote collaboration

Everyone in the core team is both a leaner and a teacher.

When the teamwork gets underway, it’s crucial to agree on the principles of an appreciative and productive working attitude. This makes it easier to rehearse new routines and then build on these to focus energy on the really important creative moments.

Draw on multiple perspectives

A range of different perspectives are the lifeblood of good teamwork. In order to work on a common cause in a problem-oriented manner, it is vital to tap into different opinions constructively and temporarily discard any hierarchies: personal views, mundane perceptions and whims of the moment can all be included on an experimental basis.

Value the time spent together

Time is an important resource that is always scarce. So-called timeboxing – i.e. the strict time limitation of individual work steps – helps both small teams and large groups make the most of collaborative impetus in a disciplined manner. Everyone is to be heard and every idea is to be considered. This approach often unleashes creativity. With a little practice, the focus shifts precisely onto the subject itself rather than rambling descriptions.

Rotational documentation

The comprehensible documentation of individual steps is fundamental to enable interim outcomes to be taken further on a collaborative basis. It acts as a knowledge base that enables people to easily find out information and discuss issues on the basis of data, as well as helping prepare and arrive at solution-oriented decisions. Documentation is a demanding task that is taken on by different individuals on a rotating basis. Use the second to last page of each chapter, Document Outcomes, to draw up a summary.

Teams are more important than tools

Handbooks or innovation management guides with details of countless tools and methods fill entire bookshelves – in the public sector, too. Ultimately, however, it is often not the tools that determine the success of a venture, but the way in which they are used and the aims being pursued. As such, it is attitude that ultimately defines the design process. The key to innovation is people and how they interact with each other.

Promote communication

"Communication is a bit like love – it’s what makes the world go round, but nobody really knows how it works" - Krogerus, Tschäppeler. 2018. The Communication Book

Innovation processes thrive on communication. A basis for communication is needed that promotes openness, understanding and learning – especially when a dynamic approach and a flexible attitude are required. In the course of the iterative development steps, team members get close and by the end of the innovation process will have gone through thick and thin with each other.

  • Deliberately address problems in your team. This is all part of the success of the innovation process. Conflict helps identify blind spots and detect elements that are lacking or disruptive; it also provides guidance in establishing an appreciative teamwork routine.

  • Use the four steps of Nonviolent Communication as a means of support or reflect on what you have experienced using the Five Finger Feedback method. This will help you discover the value behind a conflict or incorporate what you have experienced into the ongoing process as a lesson learned.

  • By saying yes, and ... instead of yes, but ... you are taking what was said before and adding your own perspective.

The three methods used in Stage 4 are explained below.

Teamwork Routine

Teamwork Routine

What is it and what purpose does it serve?

The Teamwork Routine helps structure the flow of work meetings, taking into account the organizational culture. As an agenda, it opens up a creative space within a very short time and closes it again in a way that is oriented towards results.

Added value

This procedure is not only useful for team meetings: it can also be used in a modified form for other sessions – regardless of whether they last 30 minutes or 4 hours. The added value is to make the best possible use of the time available for the joint development of interim outcomes.

Teamwork Routine

Work sheet

30 minutes – several hours


The following steps can be used to open and close a learning cycle that is limited to a set period of time:

  1. Check in with a good mood or on a personal note

  2. Assign roles or rotate roles at each meeting

  3. Communicate focus of the meeting or indicate the stage of the process

    1 Set agenda and interim outcomes

    2 Collaborate methodically

    3 Define next steps

    4 Assign and distribute tasks with date and deadline

    5 Check out on a note of thanks

  4. Complete template based on the steps. This produces the agenda for the meeting.

  5. Before the start of the meeting, agree on who will take on which role, e.g. facilitation and documentation of the individual work steps.

  6. Ensure meeting agenda is visible to everyone so as to be able to make adjustments as needed.

Note: The two most important roles for successful meetings are the facilitator and the time manager. The facilitator doesn’t lead the team but provides support in adhering to the work routine and helps ensure that the group experience is a positive one. The facilitator is a participant just like everyone else and can make their own contributions. The time manager helps the team work in small units of time, ensuring the focus is maintained..

Five Finger Feedback

Five Finger Feedback

What is it and what purpose does it serve?

The Five Finger Feedback activity promotes quick and structured reflection. The method can be used at the end of workshops or meetings or to round off a day of team work.

Added value

This multi-layered feedback enables experience to be integrated in the ongoing process as a lesson learned. Visual documentation creates transparency and shows that every opinion in the team is valued.

Interpersonal dialog and contact thrive on constant feedback. It is an often unconscious process that can be articulated and elucidated by means of various methods. With a little practice, this improves how people perceive themselves and are perceived by others. Feedback is not an evaluation of performance: it is used for individual and shared learning. Individual feedback methods are now very common in the evaluation of learning experiences. (Goetz, Reinhardt. 2016. Führung: Feedback auf Augenhöhe)

Five Finger Feedback

Work sheet

10 – 15 minutes


  1. Take the Five Finger Feedback template and make it clearly visible as a guide for all participants.

  2. Convey the goal of providing feedback so as to give a sense of purpose to this shared reflection.

  3. Feedback is written in the first person because it is intended to clarify the individual’s personal perspective. Everyone takes three minutes to formulate feedback for each finger:

    1 What I really liked ...

    2 What I found remarkable ...

    3 What I’d like to see next time ...

    4 What I learned ...

    5 What I felt got too little attention ...

  4. Take it in turns to present the completed sentences to the group. Everyone listens attentively. No one is interrupted in the process. Everyone has the same opportunity to comment briefly and concisely on what they have experienced. Feedback is provided without justification.

Note: Phrases such as “You did...” or “Your work is ...” should be avoided when providing constructive feedback..

Nonviolent Communication

Nonviolent Communication

What is it and what purpose does it serve?

The Four-Step Model of Nonviolent Communication helps people in intense work-related contexts or day-to-day situations resolve conflicts instead of trying to win them.

The following routines should be avoided:

  • Analysis: This is wrong because ...
  • Criticism: Your mistake was that ...
  • Interpretation: You do this because ...
  • Judgment: You are ...
  • Threat: If you don’t do this, then ...

These reinforce a bad atmosphere by not directly addressing hidden desires.

Added value

This kind of communication enables routines to be turned upside down without apportioning blame. Instead of putting the blame on the other person, you take responsibility for improving the situation yourself in a constructive and appreciative way.

Nonviolent Communication

Work sheet

30 – 45 minutes


Go through the following steps for yourself:

  1. Observe without judging: What do I see, hear, observe without judging myself or others?

  2. Perceive and articulate your own feelings or those of others: What do I feel without blaming anyone else? What do others feel without me taking it personally?

  3. Recognize needs and take them seriously: What unfulfilled needs do my feelings or those of others indicate to me?

  4. Articulate clear and achievable requests based on needs: What would I like to ask of someone else? And what do I want to do myself?

  5. Reflect on responses and cluster them. What are the essential points of 01-04 that need to be communicated to improve the situation or resolve the conflict?

Note: Nonviolent communication requires a little practice. At the beginning, it helps to write down the most important points for each step.

  1. Decide if and when to communicate the essential points of the four steps. Experience indicates that reflection can produce fresh perspectives on a situation. This may mean that the conflict can potentially be resolved without actually speaking.