Innovation Culture

Co-creating an organisation’s collective identity and innovation culture.

This project was completed during my employment at Ideactio. My role was as project lead. The copyrights to the project belong to Ideactio.

A new statutory board in Singapore was looking to develop its culture and define its values, to align all 1500 employees with the aspired ways of working. This agency was newly formed by merging teams from across Singapore government statutory boards.

Phase 00 - Pre Project

This project was awarded to Ideactio through a public tender. We won this project after I created a project proposal and pitch video within a short turnaround. The project was awarded based on our innovative and energetic pitching approach, as well as Ideactio's prior track record.

Phase 01 - Leadership Co-Creation

To understand the aspired culture of the organisation, and it's challenges in living the aspired culture, we conducted interviews several 1-1 interviews with the senior leadership. In these interviews, we had to quickly pivot our approach, after receiving the feedback from our interviewees that the conversations were not eliciting novel responses.

In later interviews we designed visual prompts such as "If your team were a superhero, who would they be and why?" to encourage creative thinking and make the interviews more engaging. The outcome of this phase was a consolidated perspective of the leadership on the aspired culture & values of the organisation.

Phase 02 - Microcosm Co-Creation

Having learnt from our engagements during phase 01 of this project, we designed an engaging co-creation session to generate new values with a microcosm of the organisation. This group of participants consisted of 200+ officers from various roles and functions, to achieve a feeling of participation and buy-in for the values being defined.

Values superheroes

Participants create a superhero that best embodies the spirit, super powers, and values of our aspired culture. The goal was to encourage bold & aspirational thinking.

Picture Pairs

Participants intuitively select a picture from a pair that best represents the aspired culture, and discuss why. The goal was to spur in-the-moment responses that are honest, and to not overthink.

Values Building Bricks

Particpants write down all their generated values on boxes, create emerging clusters across groups, and write labels. The goal was to converge all of the values across groups, and highlight the common high-priority ones.

Describing Culture

The top-voted values are assigned to different groups, to summarise their meaning & capture key phrases.

Phase 02 Outcome

The creative and fun experience design for these sessions were key to our success, as our engagement received positive feedback, with 96% of participants finding the sessions "better than expected" (score of 4&5 on a scale of 1-5).

The outcome was 6 new organisational values with a catchy mantra: "1 thing that drives us, 2 things that binds us, and 3 things that set us apart". Co-creation allowed members of the agency to create the culture, collectively.

As an extra challenge to myself, I committed to writing a draft of lyrics for a rap/ theme song for the organisation. Below is a snippet of these lyrics:

No office politics, leaving no one behind,
Like chopsticks, together stronger than parts combined.
Caring for anyone - protecting everyone,
You die, I die, one for all and all for one.
That is what teamwork is all about,
That is why teamwork we can’t do without.

It’s worthwhile caring for each other's feelings,
Walk a mile wearing each other's sneakers.
Empathy - stepping in someone else’s shoes
Flats, heels, or boots, there is lots to choose.
Empathy is being bound to one-another,
Like a sister or a brother - caring for each other,

Innovation we exist for, think out of the box to do more,
Looking for better ways, solving problems to save the day.
Innovation is dreaming big - succeed faster by failing quick, 
Solving crimes with forensics; in the study with the candlestick.
Overcoming adversity, responding with agility,
Courage to take risk, dare to try and persist.

Foresight; see the future: you’re a visionary,
Constant learning to be future-ready.
Problem resolving to remain ahead,
Always evolving for the future threat.
We foresee - anticipate the worst-case future,
It’s like we manipulate space-time curvature.

Phase 03 - Gamified values roll-out to the entire organisation

The final phase was more akin to game design than workshop design, with our ambition being to create the best workshop experience which officers had ever participated in.

After developing many ideas for creative exercises, we settled on the narative for the workshops as "Mission to Amarex, a journey to space". In our session, all participants were astronauts on a mission to find the elixir of immortality. Through several games, they experience all the values of the organisation.

Mission: Journey to Amarex

"Nobody would have believed, at the dawn of the 21st century, that civilisation would have achieved everything. This is it, the last leg. We have achieved so much. We have explored sublime planets - distant, colourful, different, worlds. Learning from them. Solving the greatest mysteries of space. It's unbelievable we are going to find the last missing puzzle piece, the elixir is so close, I can almost taste it."

Chapter 01: Stocking Up Resources

"The first leg of our journey will be to stock up on resources. We will be crossing an asteroid field, filled with space debris. Make sure you’re prepared to mine those asteroids as they’re key to the success of our mission."

Chapter 02: Encrypted Noises

"There is an incoming transmission, seems like our sister ship is trying to send a message! The ship was long lost, it seems like they have been trying to broadcast to us. It must be coming through now because we are getting closer to Amarex. What does this mean?!"

Chapter 03: Building in the Dark

"We are picking up readings from the surface. Looks like there’s a dismantled light tower on the ground. We will attempt to drop you as close a possible, perhaps it can be rebuilt. The light tower once stood on the dark side to guide people to the elixir. Find the pieces and rebuild the tower to reveal the path to immortality, in the midst of all this darkness. Be careful! There may be some space mines and craters!"

Intermission: The light starts to shine

"The pieces of the tower were weathered, as if they were faded by a solar storm. The tower had clearly been broken down long ago, and the tower pieces had endured the wrath of the elements. Some of the tower pieces were concealed under rubble, but the team managed to collect them all and assemble the pieces together. In the void of space, in the utter darkness, the light started to shine. It was a glow that had not been witnessed in centuries, a vivid blue glow that illuminated the path to the elixir of immortality."

Chapter 04: Heroes Monument

"Welcome back home! You are heroes in the public imagination, congratulations! Valere wants to celebrate the occasion, and commemorate the intergalactic achievement with a monument! The sculpture will feature a contribution from each of our heroes, you included! What is the message that you want to leave behind for future generations to remember?"

Project Reflections

As this was almost a 1-year long project, there were many learning along the way. These are my key personal takeaways:

  1. Sessions are a lot more memorable when they are designed to be fun. Going the extra-mile with a creative facilitation approach received a great response from participants.

  2. At the start of the project we made the mistake of only aligning with the client on our activities (what), but not on our approach (how). Early alignment of both sets clear expectations and ensures things go more smoothly.

  3. Creating a fictional narrative (e.g. a mission to space) with the supporting props and environment helps to bring people out of their routines of thinking, to practice new behaviours. It's also great fun for facilitation to tell a story.

ClieNT TEstimonial

"Thank you very much for being so patient with us, and pushing the boundaries and delivering so excellently on the values project. Both the co-creation workshops and the space adventure would not have achieved the high standards without you as a driving force. I'm sure you will excel wherever you go."

- Director of Strategic Communication and client-side project overseer.