Dip into Labs

You may be wondering, what, exactly, a 'lab' is all about. There seem to be two main types of processes, Change Labs and Design Labs. They are similar in some ways but also have unique characteristics:

  • Change Labs tend to emphasize building collaboration and shared understanding between participants in the lab as the basis for shared action(s).
  • Design Labs tend to place emphasis on the quality of the ideas or solutions being generated, with a focus on incorporating different perspectives in the development of a specific new product, object or service.

The SiG partnership is now devoting a great deal of energy to lab processes. MaRS recently announced the development of the Solutions Lab: "a new initiative that will help exceptional, young Canadian leaders approach complex, 21st century challenges from an integrated, multi-disciplinary perspective."

For an excellent introduction to labs, see Lisa Torjman’s "Labs: Designing the Future" blog post, which outlines the MaRS Solutions Lab project against the backdrop of the history and current state of lab models. Her full report can be found below.

On July 21-22, 2011, SiG@MaRS invited Adam Kahane and Joe McCarron from Reos Partners to facilitate a hands-on workshop introducing the Change Lab approach to 110 social innovators. The participants worked through the lab process in 16 teams on 16 different complex social challenges. Watch as Adam and Joe explain the Change Lab process and see its principles in action.

Interested in more about labs? Move on to the next page to find out how SiG is currently innovating with others on lab processes, as well as to explore further resources, including links to some of the most well known Change and Design Labs from around the world.