Key Elements for an effective lab

The following sections are the key elements for running an effective lab, as identified by the NouLAB team upon completion of 2 lab cycles, in year 1.

Multiple Perspectives

  • On the checkout of the first day the theme of belonging arose very quickly. Because of the strong representation of newcomers in the room, addressing the feeling of being in a new place and being welcomed was so important. The NouLAB team responded to this by naming the presence of that issue the following morning. It is from this theme that the two most powerful prototypes emerged, driven by passion and the recognition of a deep issue in the topic of immigration to a new place.

  • The experience of business in the lab was that they had never had such close working connections with government before. In this context they were on a team that was working towards the same goal. Given equal footing at a roundtable and given the tools to move actions items forward.

  • For settlement agencies, they are the frontline workers dealing with the day-to-day issues. Having their grounded understanding was noted by academic voices as very rich, valuable data. This helped ensure interventions would be designed appropriately to the needs of the people on the ground experiences in the issue.

Following Passion

  • A sizeable number of the participants were paid to be in the lab. This led to some feeling like they had to fulfil their organisational mandate through their participation. What was surprising was that some of the most productive and provocative prototypes came out of people following a passion not an expected path.

Examples

  • The Capacity for Courage team wanted to take a very bold path and tackle racism in the province that prevents meaningful connection between newcomers and locals

  • One of the key members of the Diversity in Government team felt like his job would dictate him to a part of the post-secondary student support group but his passion lay in bringing more diversity in government and he turned out to be instrumental in building their team’s prototype into something that could be workable in reality.

  • The team that ended up building the Community Inclusion Toolkit was made up of almost all people who had moved to New Brunswick. They knew the story of coming to a new place and being misunderstood. By building a program that is in direct response to the needs they face, they have created something effective and useful.

Ongoing Support for Prototypes

  • Coaching has been essential to getting teams to the next level

    • This can mean encouragement, check-in calls, advice on who to contact.

  • Further support has come in the form of developing a three day training for the Capacity for Courage team.

  • Connections for experts to build on the work

  • Each team has access of up to $5000 to test and develop their prototype

Leadership Council

  • Connections for prototype teams

  • They are the content experts to help guide the process (recruitment, evaluation of ideas, created the original purpose of the lab “HMW retain and attract…”)

How the lab is hosted

  • Facilitation methods informed by the Art of Hosting. The Art of Hosting is a suite of participatory processes for enabling meaningful conversations and creates a safe container where teams are more likely to take risks, have empathy for one another, and communicate effectively across differences.

  • Building a safe space that feels creative is essential for the best results. The NouLAB team builds experiences with metaphor, play and conscious attention to individual experience. This includes how the room is setup. Centrepieces to create atmosphere.

  • Being conscious of participants’ energy and engagement levels in the room. Getting voices heard in the room early. Taking a pulse with check-ins and check-outs.

Harvesting

  • Visual learning, make it visible!

  • The website and various mediums are used to share learnings and give an outside view into what the lab is working on. https://www.economicimmigrationlab.org/

  • Making sure that data is captured as it happens whether by excel spreadsheet or by photo.

  • Using templates to guide conversations - Always be capturing.

What funders should keep in mind

  • (video about not “winning”, but about continually learning/evolving). This means having principles to work/live by, not looking to win.