Innovation Exchange

Ideas Hub

Introduction

Key activities

Benefits and impacts

Learning

As an organisation Aberdeen City Council has a very clear vision for the Council and for the city of Aberdeen. The aims and guiding principles of this vision are focused on improving customer experience, improving staff experience and improving the use of our resources.  It recognises that the level of service transformation that is required to achieve this vision, coupled with the increasing restrictions on public sector budgets, requires it to innovate at all levels in the organisation.

 

As such, the Council encourages innovation and a bottom up approach which ensures the voice of employees is both sought and responded to.

 

To help achieve this it has launched the Ideas Hub, a bespoke online idea management platform based around those triple aims. While the Council recognises that idea platforms are not a new concept this unique platform:

 

  • Allows the organisation to gather employee ideas efficiently and develop and deliver those that are aligned to corporate strategy
  • Creates a means for employees to openly collaborate and innovate across the organisation
  • Empowers change and communicates policy and procedures
  • Provides a means for employees and managers to highlight the good work done by others and to recognises and appreciate colleagues
  • Gives a structured process for staff to have input into the review of policy and procedure such as the HR Policy Review
  • Allows staff to have their say on key corporate initiatives such as the Star Awards
  • Provides a means to share data from the Employee Opinion Survey along with suggestions for actions to address any issues identified through the survey
  • Encourages employees to share their personal commitments aligned to change and transformation and to update their progress towards these
  • Allows the Council to grow its corporate social responsibility as well as recognise and reward the hard work staff do for good causes throughout the city and beyond through the recent introduction of the Social Innovation Challenge .

 

As such the platform is not only an innovation tool, it is also a means to promote communication, engagement, collaboration,  recognition, corporate responsibility and the contribution of all to strategy planning.

Theme: Service Transformation

Aberdeen City Council logo

Using a design led and agile (incremental and iterative) approach the platform encourages open innovation, which is the breaking down of organisational boundaries to encourage flow of knowledge and ideas across teams, services and directorates.

 

The platform illustrates the organisation’s commitment to creating a culture of improvement and Innovation.  In doing this the council empowers  staff to make improvements to processes and services it provide to its customers.

 

The ideas are submitted and collaborated on by staff and stakeholders; it then progresses through a further in depth transparent process on the Tracker Board. Using this tracker, employees can easily see at which of the incremental stages, known as the double diamond approach, their idea is currently sitting i.e. – Define, Discover, Design, Develop and Deliver.

 

The benefits of those ideas which are delivered can then be measured to give crucial data for teams and services.

Impact

 

Empowering staff and giving them a community in which to think creatively has already had a significant impact.  The figures speak for themselves.  With over 45,000 hits on the site since January 2016 and over 200 ideas submitted, the Ideas Hub is going from strength to strength, which is considerable given it’s accessible at the moment to only around 3,000 office staff members.

 

The impact has been  such that the council is now looking to develop sister platforms by introducing them across schools. This will be truly ground breaking by allowing children from primary school age upwards to start to think more creatively about the things that matter to them whilst also aligning with current legislation and corporate responsibilities.

 

It is also exploring the introduction of the platform into the Adult Health & Social Care Partnership, giving the council and its partners a much needed online community for sharing ideas and best practice.

 

Benefits

 

The Ideas Hub has already delivered a number of significant benefits, such as:-

 

  • The thoughts and ideas are submitted from all areas of our organisation and are all held in equal footing no matter the position held.
  • Challenges are set against actual goals and objectives which feed into Service strategies – based on the fact that research has shown that when challenges are set around organisational goals and objectives that the quality and quantity of this ideas increase significantly.
  • No ideas are lost, whilst some may not be aligned to strategy or budget at this time they can be banked for future development.
  • The transparent nature of the platform allows staff to see the outcomes of their ideas which increases enthusiasm and participation.
  • Silos are being broken down of by providing an effective online community
  • Best practice is being shared and promoted throughout the Council
  • Positivity is being spread across the organisation through the peer recognition function .
  • Plans are in place to upload strategy documents which can then be collaborated on by staff, giving a sense of inclusion and consultation.

The benefits of an agile approach have meant that we were not restricted to one path and have meant we can take an evolving approach to the Hub and its expansion.

 

We are developing the platform and its functionality daily and adapting it to fit our current and future challenges.  For example through the newest introduction to the Hub, the Social Innovation Challenge, we realised that can use the platform to challenge staff to come forward with new ideas on how we can grow our corporate social responsibility as well help us recognise and support the volunteer and charity work our staff do outside of work.

 

One of the main priorities for the future growth of the Ideas Hub is finding ways to make the platform accessible to our non-office working staff.

Contact details:

To find out more about this case study, please contact:

 

Zoe Evans

Transformation and Innovation Advisor

Aberdeen City Council

01224 523538

Case study added to site: June 2016

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