Across our research, we focus on people who are vulnerable to the impacts of technology and COVID-19 on work and the labour market.
But too often in policy making, solutions are developed and implemented without involving those who they will impact the most.
To remedy this in our work, and to influence others in the space, IFOW is developing a range of inclusive research and policy making methodologies that value lived experience as a unique and essential form of subject matter expertise.
To this end, we have developed our “Social Policy Innovation Accelerator” or “SPIA” process.
SPIA is a qualitative research process drawing on 'design thinking' principles to inform research and policy development.
There are many forms of design thinking. SPIA was inspired by a method of iterative design thinking based around a user or human experience, developed by Professor Jeremy Myerson at the Royal College of Art. SPIA centres on worker experience, and is geared towards creating human-centred systems in response to complex social problems.
Participants are selected to represent a range of viewpoints on a particular policy problem. Typically IFOW has engaged frontline workers, alongside unions, government policy professionals, academics and business representatives.
Through a workshop the participants are asked to engage in a series of 'divergent' and 'convergent' conversations to first diagnose a problem, settle on the best solutions for fixing it, and work out how to best roll out and deliver the solutions that are being proposed.
We have learned to adapt the SPIA process to the specific research or policy making question at hand, and to working remotely. We encourage others to do the same.
In practice, we invite participants to join our workshops, which are divided into 3 phases:
Stages 1 & 2- Discover & Define
Participants share their diverse perspectives on the issue at hand and come to an agreement on the specific problem they want to solve, articulated in a problem statement.
Stages 3 & 4 - Design & Develop
Participants generate ideas to solve the problem they identify and begin to rank them according to their impact and feasibility. Through this process, they identify the most promising ideas.
Stages 5 & 6 - Deliver and Distribute
Participants consider the best ways to implement their chosen solutions, identifying barriers and enablers, and devise a set of illustrative targets and milestones.
Our toolkit been developed by IFOW with Professors Jeremy Myerson and Dale Russell to help participants capture and organise their ideas through the SPIA process. The IFOW SPIA be downloaded as a toolkit here.
Using SPIA in our work informs the way we think about key issues, and generates new perspectives and ideas. It enable us to spotlight the voice of vulnerable and frontline workers throughout our programmes, giving them a platform to shape policy solutions that will shape their lives.