Thought Leaders – Human Centred Design

The Innovation & Research Unit was established in 2011. We started with only 2 staff and a mandate to embed innovation in our workplace with a strong focus on workplace culture with a strong focus on workplace culture and servant leadership. Today, we have 5 staff, and approach innovation with a focus on creating the right conditions within the organization.

For 2018/2019, our work is focusing on 5 areas:

  • Project Innovation
  • Staff Training & Development
  • Service Value & Impact
  • Sustainable Partnerships
  • Research & Knowledge Mobilization.

Some of the projects we are working on include our iLab series: HACK, our Innovation Skill Sets series, using Behavioural Insights to improve client response rates, and measuring the impact of innovative programs in our department through formal research partnerships.

We remain committed to nurturing a workplace community in which all staff are invited and empowered to tap into their creativity and lead change. All of our work is grounded in the principles of empathy, experimentation and collaboration.

In practice, we use the processes, mind sets and approaches of Human Centered Design, Visual Facilitation, Co-production and Design Thinking.


The Region of Durham’s Social Services Department serves citizens through the life span: from Children’s Services, Income & Employment Support, Family Services, and Housing Services, to Long-Term Care and Services for Seniors. Our unit supports over 2,000 Social Services staff in delivering these vitally important programs and services.

We’re very excited to be part of the Municipal Innovators Community, and look forward to sharing our experiences and learning from everyone else along the way. We love talking to other innovators, if you’d like to chat, give us a shout at laura.stephan@durham.caor

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