MSF staff in Amsterdam attend the Co-Lab
18 Nov 16 13 Feb 17

Co-Labs: An experiment in MSF ideation

In July 2016, Pete Masters of MSF UK’s Manson Unit asked product design engineer, Nils Aksnes, and service designer, Keira Anderson, to come up with an experimental ideation process for OCA to pilot during the annual co-days.

What they came up with was Co-Labs, a series of tools and processes (tools available here and report from the designers available here) for collecting, examining and tackling challenges and issues experienced within MSF.

Field staff (in Amsterdam for co-days, or passing through for briefing / debriefing) and HQ staff were invited to drop in to Co-Labs to discuss barriers, insights, ideas and potential solutions.

These contributions were curated live on the wall of the expat lounge in Amsterdam, creating a visual network of information and people.

What this was not was a definitive solution for harvesting ideas and challenges around MSF’s work. Instead, it was very much a method of evaluating a potential process for doing so.

While the information gathered was interesting and the networked approach to visualising it brought a new dimension, the experiment in itself was valuable.

A close up of the Co-Lab wall.
The questions that the Co-Labs threw up were:
  • How can we develop this to bring value in the field?
  • Should we apply it to specific areas or themes within MSF’s work?
  • Should this be a continuous, integrated process, rather than a one off?

And, lastly, how does this fit within the bigger picture of MSF innovation?

The contributors to the Co-Lab clearly identified better, more rigorous, more intelligent innovation as a major opportunity for OCA and MSF. Initiatives like Co-Labs (or whatever it turns into) join the Sapling Nursery, the TIC, the proposed innovation portal and research into an innovation incubator as potential tools, channels or models for tackling different stages of the innovative process.

If you want to see the information captured through the Co-Lab, please send an email to Pete Masters in MSF UK.

Furthermore, if you have comments, questions or criticisms of Co-Labs, or if you have ideas around innovation or if you just want to be part of the ongoing conversation, please feel free to also get in touch.