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We want to do something cool, something innovative, something sexy – we know we’re falling behind what is coming and we’re in a rut.

Our thinking has gotten stagnant. We know there are innovative things coming and we are behind. We have been caught off-guard and as a government agency, we need to make a leap forward – to anticipate what we know will be inevitable technological innovation.

A government group came to us because they knew they weren’t leading and needed to be leaders in their industry. They wanted to spring forward on a forthcoming topic that they know is inevitable and the industry already feels they are behind on. They don’t want to stand in the way of innovation that can help some but must ensure they are doing all they can to keep everything safe and fair for all citizens. They know other groups in other jurisdictions are doing a better job at anticipating and adapting to change and they want to know what they are doing wrong, what they can do differently, how they can change their perspective and think more broadly, outside of the box.

Through a series of workshops, we helped them tackle problems from diverse perspectives. We deconstructed the cultural tendency to solve problems as soon as they are presented, and instead explored what it would mean to stay in a space of uncertainty and engage with exploring the digital future. We practised exploring uncertainty to tease out the corners and the edges that would be glossed over or normed out by typical approaches to “solving” innovation. This was a crash course in applying inclusive design thinking to leadership including how to break down cycles of exclusion. The government group left with tangible ways to support industry partners, to be open to partners exploring the atypical, and to being facilitators in their own industry.

This work has been conducted by our partner organisation Inclusive Design Research Centre at OCAD University.