BizLab Academy and Alumni program

We created the BizLab, Human Centred Design (HCD) Training Academy to develop skills public servants will need for the future and create a citizen-centred culture in the Australian Public Service.

This is not just another training course.

We not only train participants in HCD tools and techniques, but we make that learning stick with our unique Alumni support system

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Citizen expectations of government services are at an all-time high, and yet citizen trust of governments and institutions are declining.

In order to rebuild trust in government and serve our citizens better, we need to understand our clients what they need from Government and how they interact with our services.

The team at BizLab, within Australia’s Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, work with different parts of the department to solve wicked problems for the community. In particular we help our colleagues understand barriers that businesses and citizens face when dealing with government.

We employ human centred research, creative thinking and rigorous project management to the work that we do.

While we had been successful in meeting our team’s goal of ‘building the capability of others’ while conducting these projects, we realized that to increase our impact it was imperative to extend our reach beyond the 4 or 5 people who worked with us on projects.

Further to this, we realised that the Human Centred Design (HCD) techniques we use are applicable beyond the scope of this one department’s remit.

To expand our reach and impact we developed the BizLab Training Academy to teach public servants design thinking and the tools and techniques used in Human Centred Design (HCD).

We then back this learning up with ongoing support in our Alumni program, to help people actually use what they learnt in their day-to-day work.

The creators and facilitators of our flagship course are design practitioners that knew that embedding these techniques into everyday work takes practice.

At the outset we wanted to provide an environment where our course alumni had the confidence to apply their learnings and encourage their colleagues to also give it a go.

We have branded this, the ‘multiplier model’. This concept means that we will support people who do our course to spread the word to others and they, in turn, will try some of the techniques; get a better outcome; and continue to work in that way.

Our Alumni support and multiplier model provides a multi-channel communication approach that caters for different engagement preferences
We offer:
Digital support
• Twitter feed and ‘chatroom’ where we share messages about methods and mindsets.
• A newsletter to provide updates and information on upcoming events and activities.
• Collaboration site to share documents and other resources.
Face-to-Face support
• One-on-one mentoring that provides alumni with the confidence to practice their new skills in a timeframe that suits them.
• Network support: making connections between people within the same agency who have completed the course so they can set up their own ‘home’ network and have local support.
• Deep dives and invites special events. Ongoing learning exclusively for our alumni. We provide a series of ongoing learning opportunities to cover techniques and tools that we don’t have time for in the 3 day 1.01 course. This might be a deep dive into journey mapping or a workshop to hear how Standford’s approaches innovation.
Other support
• Tip cards are given to participants as they finish the course. This printed resource acts as a physical reminder of the tools they learned, and provide them a series of templates that we use during the HCD process.
• Train-the-trainer program where we train experienced designers to deliver the Academy training in their own agency. We provide all of the content and resources that we use, allow them to adapt and modify it so that it makes sense in their own agency and supports them to deliver the training as required.

We are well on the way to achieve our vision of embedding a citizen-centred culture within the Australian Public Service.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

Innovation Reflections

Supporting Videos

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Year: 2018
Level of government: National/Federal government


  • Implementation - making the innovation happen
  • Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed
  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

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