Designing new solutions

At Innovation Unit we partner with our clients to design new solutions that create social impact at scale, last for the long term, and leave behind the tools and techniques to inspire people to keep innovating.

We have a unique approach to building lasting change. We’re a multidisciplinary organisation that brings together experts in design, leadership, coaching, research, and systems thinking alongside experience and knowledge of the sectors we work in.

Why work with Innovation Unit?

At Innovation Unit we design and grow new solutions in a way that models the world we are striving to create. We use design as a hopeful and strategic tool to imagine better futures and unite people in their creation.

Design is a core part of Innovation Unit’s practice and models our values – a deep valuing of lived experience, a belief in the power of multidisciplinary groups to coproduce something better together and a commitment to learning and iteration.

Collaboration is at the heart of our work. We bring together the people who will deliver the new service and the people who will benefit, so that they understand each other’s needs.

We value everyone’s lived experience. We particularly seek out and amplify marginalised voices and pay attention to the root causes of inequality. We create a level playing field by including people across communities and seniority and flattening hierarchies.

We’re not a talking shop, we’re not report writers. Our focus is on making and doing to drive change. We absorb the big picture and get specific through tools that allow new solutions to emerge. We use storytelling, illustration and video to unite people around change.

We prototype, learn and iterate every step of the way, making sure everyone owns the emerging new solution.

We also use design to create (sometimes radical) change in the systems we are working in. We help to grow new cultures and practice. We contribute to changing power dynamics by helping individuals and organisations to grow a new sense of agency.

Once we’ve completed our work, we leave people with the confidence, mindsets and experience – as well as the tools, structures and system conditions – to keep moving their shared work forward.

As a result, we’ve secured significant change and impact across many projects that also have powerful knock-on effects for the people and systems involved.

What’s our approach?

Our approach helps our partners to:

  • generate powerful new perspectives on the challenges they face
  • unearth opportunities in the people and places around them
  • model the cultures they want to create
  • reimagine and transform systems
  • put all of this back together in powerful sustainable new solutions.

In order to do this, we:

Maintain a focus on real life experiences (not perceptions and assumptions)
We connect to and capture the emotions, aspirations, challenges and unmet needs of staff, communities and people through research, evaluation, insights, personas, journeys and storytelling.

Harness the design process to deliver transformational change
We draw from our suite of design methodologies, tools and frameworks to imagine future scenarios that reinvent solutions, systems, cultures and practices. We make these future scenarios tangible.

Are pattern spotters, sensemakers and storytellers
We capture, visualise, sort and cluster the data points – conversations, ideas, opinions and numbers – looking for common threads and bringing insights to life in a way that is easy for people to understand.

Are imaginative makers and creators
We help people unite around a common vision through new tools and digital or physical artefacts that capture new ways of working and help change behaviour.

Are creative in our facilitation
We create lively agendas that allow people to find common ground and generate new solutions. We work in creative and unusual ways to unlock new possibilities and grow new design cultures.

Have a prototyping mindset
We fail early, often, and at a small scale to move our thinking forward. We help our partners to embed prototyping as day-to-day practice so that improvement lives on after we have left.

We zoom in and out
We move between a focus on moments and experiences to system and relationships – paying particular attention to inequalities.

We grow and spread design practice
We train people in design processes so that people can create changes after we’re gone. Some clients decide to join our Service Design Academy to deepen their skills further.

Projects in 'Designing new solutions'