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What is it?

 This set of cards draws from different theories about how change happens. They come from the practice of other public sector innovation initiatives, the unique potential that governments have to catalyse change, and also theoretical foundations like systems thinking, social change, and transformative learning. Most public sector staff default to a fairly small number of standard and go-to tools of government intervention, particularly policy, program/service delivery, and public engagement, so this set of prompts aims to expand those possibilities. The triangles show if an intervention has an orientation toward personal, organizational culture, and/or systems level transformation. The cards are an attempt to simplify these different opportunities to intervene in systems, and also to expand out the current practice in many public sector innovation labs that draws predominantly from human-centred design interpretations.

When is it used?

These can be used in a few different ways and at different stages in your process. One suggestion is to use them as an ideation prompt, to see what potential solutions people might come up with if they are oriented around a specific type of interventions. Another option is to use them to aid in developing a robust description of “how change happens” and “our contribution to change” when developing a theory of change for your initiative. They could also be used as prototype concepts are being developed and refined. A specific intervention prompt could be used to focus a prototyping effort, and the signals, measures and evaluands on the back side of each card could help with assessing what you are learning from your prototype.

How to use it: 

Because there are so many different ways to use this technique, there isn’t a specific recipe for their use. Print a set of the cards (there is no logic to the colour choices) and play with some of the ideas shared here. Keep in touch about other ways that you are using them, and how you are adapting them.


Lindsay Cole