Tiger Team

Tiger Team is a monthly cross-corporate super team of 25+ passionate people to boldly tackle problems in the administration and city. This collaborative experiment brings together staff, citizens, and community stakeholders for 2.5 hours to understand and explore complex problems, generate ideas and prototype solutions to test with users. By bringing together these diverse perspectives Tiger Team is able to compress timelines, find unexpected solutions, identify change makers, and break down silos.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

In an organisation of 15,000 people, silos are inevitable, and even necessary in many cases. As challenges become increasingly more complex and the administration strives to improve our services every day the need for a new working model emerged. A new space was needed to collaborate and find better ways to solve critical problems for the citizens of Calgary. Passionate change makers had to be found and brought together.

In 2016 a partnership between The City of Calgary’s Innovation Lab and the Liveable Streets team was formed to co-design Tiger Team: a cross-corporate super team that meets once a month to boldly tackle problems that no one mind can overcome alone. 20-25 change makers are convened - a mix of city staff from all different work areas, City partners, community groups, engaged citizens, and even local developers: An open invite where anyone is welcome.

Each Tiger Team works with the client to design a working session using innovation and design methodology that will help participants purposefully move their work forward in an accelerated and unexpected way. The process starts with a client who owns a complex challenge that could benefit from a broad range of perspectives and innovation thinking. Often these challenges are brought forward by City of Calgary staff, but occasionally community partners' challenges are also dealt with.

In a 2.5 hour session, the Tiger Team will use a combination of exercises to accomplish the tactics below to co-create together:
-Explore, understand, and reframe the challenge
-Generate, sort, and evaluate as many ideas as possible for a solution
-Prototype potential solutions in a low-cost, quick and effective way
-Get users to test and interact with the prototype to gather feedback and learn fast
-Find and build the critical relationships to tackle future work
-Create working tools for future use in this challenge

Tiger Team tackles a different problem every month. Given the open nature of the invitation, participants are attracted to the opportunity for a variety of reasons ranging, from their general desire to work collaboratively and break down organizational silos to significant attachment to or interest in the problem. It’s part of what makes each Tiger Team unique and the outputs rich and vibrant.

Broad themes that the Tiger Team has taken on include activating businesses (in unlikely ways) during massive construction projects, better coordination of snow and ice control efforts as a City, encouraging City staff to take more risks and working with citizens to improve neighbourhood way finding.

Examples of complex challenges that Tiger Team has taken on include and who has benefited from the work are:
-Residents: Tiger Team helped a suburban community in Calgary called Coventry generate actionable ideas and prototypes for better way finding in their community. These were then implemented by citizens to improve liveability and community cohesion. These learnings can also be replicated and implemented by other communities throughout the city.
-City Staff: Tiger Team worked with the City’s Planning Department to improve the web-based, interactive map which helps citizens learn more about their neighbourhood and contribute feedback for city building. The session focused on improving their interface through user testing and generating future state ideas and tactics.
-External Organizations: Tiger Team worked with the New Central Library Service Design team to build design thinking skills and develop/test four prototypes for engaging with citizens around controversial topics such as public art and vulnerable populations.

Overall, the goals of Tiger Team are:

1) To help solve the challenge, through a creative working model that has been proven to work regardless of the challenges' origin or nature. This model includes:
-Leveraging the skills, experiences and resources of the cross-corporate innovation network; using trusted innovation tools and methodologies to understand, ideate, prototype and test solutions
-Implementing impactful solutions boldly
-Gaining key support and buy-in from senior leadership for innovation programming

2) To foster an innovation culture at The City of Calgary by:
-Building a network of passionate change makers that can turn to each other for support
-Modelling the vulnerability and courage needed for innovation work as challenge owners; Openly share their work with others, including citizens
-Creating a successful model for collaborative work in the City context
-Building innovation capacity through tools and mindset development

The Innovation Lab and the Liveable Streets teams plan on continuing Tiger Teams monthly to solve multi-faceted problems together. The Innovation Lab is now using the Tiger Team model to offer a new service called “Accelerators” and is also being used by senior leadership at the City.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

Innovation Reflections

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Year: 2016
Level of government: Local government


  • 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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