La 27e Région, Innovation Lab: be the change that you wish to see

IMG_1743 (2)Stéphane Vincent is founder and head of  La 27e Région, a laboratory whose goal is to “change the change” in the 26 French regional governments and in the Public sector.

1) Nicolas: Hi Stéphane, you’re heading the 27ème Région entity, could you tell us about its mission, and the assignments it usually works on?

Stéphane Vincent: La 27ème Région is an entity set up in 2008 to apply service design to public policies, and support public governance modernization. We help ministries, governmental organizations, and regional/local authorities to develop social innovation in their policies, to promote service design and user-driven approach, to use Internet and new media as a mean to improve their efficiency, in the benefit of citizens.

We help them not just to develop and design innovative services, but also to transform their mindset at the policy level. Our work include users from the start, turning them in source of proposals. Main characteristics of our approach are:

  • ethnographic immersion in public entities, to observe users in the field, and mobilize creative thinking from citizens and local public servants;
  • rapid prototyping;
  • test, fail, and learn;
  • multidisciplinary team;
  • research and action programs.

Its scope is the French regional playground, whose responsibilities include transportation, education (high-school, and university), research, and economic growth.

We aim at acculturate administrative engine with service design. We support set-up of service design and innovation laboratories in the Regions, with design and social skills, similar to the network of cities innovation teams of Bloomberg’s philantropies, or to LabWorks brought together by Nesta in London. We work as well as making this skill a part of the education provided to students of Administration Schools, such as National School of Administration (ENA).

labo 27e région

2) Could you give examples of relevant challenges recently completed?

Stéphane Vincent: La 27eme region supports various kind of challenges:

  • re-thinking a regional policy within 5 days, helping public servants to redesign their organization;
  • connecting high-schools to digital, more than a new equipment, revisiting behaviors with ‘inverse class’ (students viewing lesson on video at home, and raising questions at school), and Q&A or QCM executed on mobile handsets;
  • simplifying social administrative request from a user point of view, and testing the new process with 2000 people;
  • imagining oneself in the shoes of a start-up, and retracing the entrepreneurial path in the administration labyrinth;
  • helping a region to get more creative applications to a request for proposals related to care homes.

Concretely, a Region will order a program from the catalog: program will describe the type of tasks performed (for example Territoires en Résidences). A typical framework unfolds 3 weeks of immersion, 1 week of understanding wrap-up, 1 week of prototyping, and 1 week of outlook (to define a generic process and the tools to help local teams implement), in an overall timeline of 7 months.

The programs catalog is available here: Additional case studies are described here:


3) You’ve just opened a new creative space Superpublic in Paris: could you explain its function, and the facilities it offers?

Superpublic is a compelling space dedicated to creative thinking on reshaping process and organization in the public spaces. It’s a neutral place where different levels of administration can cooperate in a friendly mindset, without being in competition : State level, with Regions, Cities, Counties, etc. It lets team take a breath of fresh air and provide an isolated time out of the administration. It makes several tools available such as: creativity spaces, service design consultants like Plausible PossibleCare and Co for healthcare, Counterpoint on cultural risks, but also the General Secretary for the State Modernization (SGMAP), who has an office at Superpublic.

IMG_1744 (2)

Currently it’s a test. Like bigger places such as Civic Hall in New York City, we want to prove that there is a need for special places 100% dedicated to the public sector, where the culture is very different from places dedicated to start-ups like  Numa or center for collective intelligence, Player -even if we can cooperate with them.

4) What is your coming challenge in the next future of 27ème Région?

Stéphane Vincent: Until 2014 we were mainly a « do-tank », trying to test and promote a new approach in the public sector. This is our way of doing and we want to keep this capacity in our core activities. But it’s not enough if we want this to go mainstream. Now we must do lobbying, contribute to a larger ecosystem, and create alliances with national and local players. That’s what we’re doing now together with a group of local authorities like the City of Paris, 5 Regional government and national agencies like SGMAP. There is also a major change, due to the fact that the French Government has divided the number of Regions by 2 : The 26 existing Regions will be only 13 by the end of this year ! The practical consequence for us is that we might change our name and enlarge our activities soon. To be continued…



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