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The private meets the public

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When private companies have to cooperate with public authorities to solve current societal challenges, it is crucial to foster a common understanding of the task they set out to solve together. That was one of the main points, when MindLab was in Tokyo to advise and educate Future Center Alliance Japan in methods, mindset and approach to public innovation.

The cooperation between the public sector and private companies are often characterized by conflicting objectives. The public sector has the development of society in focus, while the private concentrate on profit making. That is precisely why it is a criterion for success, to start by getting a common understanding of the challenges you are trying to solve.

In MindLab, we are experts in methods that can focus and fine-tune a project, so the desired effect is achieved. Therefore, MindLab’s Jakob Schjørring went to Tokyo to advise and educate Future Center Alliance Japan, which is an umbrella organization for 30 of the country’s largest companies. The purpose was to prepare the organization to draw the outlines for an innovation hub, where public organizations and private companies will work together to find solutions to societal challenges.

Just like us here at home, the Japanese face major societal challenges, notably in the form of a demographic future with elder people and fewer young people. It is an ideal place for the public and private sectors to work together on solutions that can both benefit society and be profitable. But for that to be successful, it is essential to find out where to start the work on such a complex issue. MindLab, therefore, introduced the Japanese to methods such as future scenarios and qualitative user profiles. The methods helped the Japanese to look at the complex social issues from the ordinary citizen’s point of view. The methods are useful at the start of a project because they help to focus the project’s ambition on a concrete and citizen-oriented level rather than an abstract academic level.

The visit to Japan provided a good opportunity to pass on knowledge and experience from the daily work of MindLab while emphasizing the innovative actions that are being carried out in the public sector in Denmark. The program, therefore, consisted of a mixture of counseling, panel discussions and outright teaching of methods.