Reporting for Innovation

Ditching the 25-page Reports for Short Stories

Cassie Branagan, Business and Data Strategist, City of Calgary

City of Calgary’s Corporate Analytics & Innovation’s Placemat Report

The City of Calgary opened its Innovation Lab in 2016. But it wasn’t until the end of 2020 that we received the most direct positive feedback (of any previous reports sent out) from our Senior Leadership. Telling our story is essential to our work so that we can continue to build our innovation network and shift mindsets when approaching problems.

When the Innovation Lab first opened, we would create mid-year and year-end reports to outline the details of our work, show our value and competitive advantage. Imagine you’re holding a 25-page document, the stapler on the top left corner barely piercing through all the papers, text heavy, lots of numbers, yet informative with great content (of course!). But in this fast-paced world, our reports were getting lost under a high pile of papers on our leaders’ desks. We needed to get into our leaders’ hands and to do that, we needed to do something differently.  

Our first pivot – We took our 25-page report, compressed into four pages and instead of an annual report, we did a 6-month report. Here, we reported on WHAT we did on 20 different projects with some metrics. This was better, but it wasn’t hitting the mark.

Our second pivot – We took the 2-pager and compressed it further into a one-page placemat to tell 10 short stories and the IMPACT the projects had on employees and citizens. By providing bite-sized, easily digestible stories, we were able to connect with our audience about why innovation matters.

We’re not done. We continue to learn and evolve through prototyping and testing. Recently we conducted empathy experiments to test how leaders and staff prefer to absorb information through mediums such as video, social media, digitally or hard copy.

We’d love to hear from you on how you report on innovation for the greatest impact to your readers. Connect with us at civicinnovation@calgary.ca.

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