Why cohort learning works

On Wednesday 19 July, Y Lab kick-started the R&D phase of Innovate to Save with a bootcamp in Cardiff. The event was designed to ensure that funded teams were inspired, set up and ready to tackle their project.  

Guest speakers, such as Michael Sheen and Mark Drakeford AM, encouraged projects by talking about the F word, 'Failure', and hands-on research and development skills sessions gave participants practical tools to help them on their R&D journey.

From a programme design point of view, we wanted the bootcamp to help build stronger networks among the participating organisations, at the same time as giving participants the skills to prototype and test their ideas.

Despite significant differences between the projects taken forward to the R&D phase, all had similar R&D learning needs and all were at the start of their journey towards creating innovative public services.

Given these common needs, we felt that a cohort programme approach would be best - since this would allow the cohort to be supported both by the programme team and their peers as they go through the process.

We put together an interactive and dynamic programme to help the projects to grow their R&D knowledge and skills

Bringing the participants together helped build ‘community’, fostered creativity and encouraged greater progress.

Further, the cohort programme approach allowed us to ensure that collaboration occured both naturally and by design throughout the bootcamp. Ideas (and challenges) come from inside or outside organisations, and bringing people together to review and discuss each other’s ideas is an important part of the R&D process.

While the sessions programmed for the 2-day bootcamp focused on R&D specifics such as mapping stakeholders, mapping project threats/risks, and prototyping techniques, the manner in which they were run helped generate a more beneficial form of learning that transcends course material and is better retained by participants.

In addition to designing a skills programme that fosters natural collaboration, we were determined that participants felt encouraged and inspired during bootcamp.

Key messages around ‘failure’ were delivered, reinforcing the understanding that R&D provides a safe space for organisations to try things out and fail, and that failing should ensure that we learn and improve to produce better iterations of our original ideas.

Feedback from participants suggests that the delivery programme and approach employed at the R&D bootcamp was successful, with the majority of participants reporting that they intend to build ongoing relationships with people from bootcamp, and that they feel confident they will draw on the growing peer network of I2S for help.

We will be bringing our cohort back together in the Autumn to share their progress - we’re already looking forward to seeing how this bootcamp helped along the way.

6 tools to help projects undertake R&D work

The slides from July’s bootcamp can be found here.

More about Innovate to Save

Innovate to Save has been set up to support new ideas that have the potential to generate cashable savings for Welsh public services and improve the quality of service delivery. The programme places as much emphasis on providing the right support and tools to develop robust project proposals as it does the funds to allow organisations to achieve change. Read more information about the programme.

If you’d like to find out more about the bootcamp or the Innovate to Save programme, please get in touch: [email protected] / 029 2251 0320.


Angharad Dalton

Angharad Dalton

Angharad Dalton

Programme Manager, Y Lab

Angharad is the Programme Manager for Innovate to Save

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