The following impact case study is an extract from ‘The Lens: A Qualitative Programme Review 2015-2019’, an independent evaluation completed by The Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship. The study provides insights into the impact that The Lens Intrapreneurship Programme has with regards to the workforce, organisation and social innovation.

Renfrewshire and Stirling councils have both participated in two rounds of The Lens Intrapreneurship Programmes, individually. This case study reflects on both their experiences and the impact that the Programme had on improving and innovating public service delivery.

Increasing innovation in local councils

Senior Leaders in Renfrewshire and Stirling council recognised the need and importance of being entrepreneurial and developing social innovations to create new and improved public services. Both organisations used The Lens Intrapreneurship Programme as part of a number of organisational changes to encourage and incentivise entrepreneurship, internally and externally. The motivation was to engage with front-line staff, using the Programme to empower staff to come-up with new and efficient social innovations.

“It was part of a broader context of a drive for Stirling to become more entrepreneurial. So, it wasn’t that it was done in isolation. It was done amongst a whole range of other interventions, with that underlying philosophy.”

Senior Leader, Stirling Council

“Engaging with the workforce on an ongoing basis is something that we try and do and it’s something that, as I say, is critical to our role in terms of service improvement... we’re obviously looking for opportunities to deliver things for our customers and citizens in new ways and more efficient ways.”

Senior Leader, Renfrew Council

Empowering staff with entrepreneurship skills

The Lens Intrapreneurship Programme was able to develop the entrepreneurial skills of front-line staff. Through the structured series of workshops, and enabling work that Lens do with the organisation, participants developed the requisite skills needed to innovate.

Participants explicitly attributed The Lens with increasing their creative thinking, idea development, presentation and communication, critical analysis and teamwork skills. These skills are known to be important for develop entrepreneurial thinking in organisations. Furthermore, the Intrapreneurship Programme helped a lot of front-line staff to develop their self-confidence and apply the skills they learnt into their own professional development.

Figure 1 below shows the counts for the number of times participants attributed The Lens to a change in their skill levels. Explicit attribution shows a clear link to the programme, whilst implicit attribution shows The Lens helped to facilitate the development of a skills. Neutral or negative counts are given when a participant does not attribute a skill to The Lens programme, or demonstrated a negative impact on the skill.

Figure 1: Evidence of The Lens programme upskilling front-line staff

RC & Stir Council Case Study Graph

Generating social innovations to improve public services

The increases in the entrepreneurial skills of staff resulted in the development and delivery of a number of social innovations. Social innovations are new products or services that address social needs and problems. Front-line staff of Renfrewshire and Stirling council developed a number innovations that can be used to tackle some of Scotland’s biggest social issues.

Examples of social innovations include:

‘Pre-loved’ – an online reusable school uniform platform, that accepts uniform donations, launders and ships to peoples address free of charge.

This social innovation looks to address child poverty and, specifically, uniform poverty. 24% of children live in poverty in Scotland, with the Scottish Government committed to providing £120 million to tackle this.

‘Direct Funerals’ – where the council take on the added services of funeral directors to cut the cost of a funeral in half.

This social innovation looks to address funeral poverty. 5,500 families per year struggle to pay average funeral cost of £3,600 – a £20 million social problem.

‘Renfrewshire Language Bank’ – consisting entirely of local residents, the Bank provides the necessary language support for those struggling with English.

This social innovation looks to tackle the problem that many residents face in Scotland of not having English as a first language. 6.2% of Scotland’s population have some weakness with the English language. This equates to 19,000 pupils who have English as a second language in schools.

‘Community Caddies’ – which gives equipment to local groups and volunteers to allow them to carry out work in their neighbourhood.

This social innovation looks to tackle the problem of littering in local communities. 15,000 tonnes of litter are collected every year in Scotland, costing about £46 million to clean-up.

‘SOOPIR’ bus – which provides specialist transport for older people who had difficulty in accessing public transport, and feel that they are unable to leave their homes.

This social innovation looks to tackle social isolation amongst older people. 200,000 older people in Scotland experience loneliness and social isolation.

Although each innovation has been implemented locally by the councils, they all have potential to scale. Many have attracted the attention of the Scottish Government and other national organisations who see the potential of national roll-out.

This is an extract from: Dr Knox, S & Marin-Cadavid, C. 2019. ‘The Lens: A Qualitative Programme Review 2015-2019’. The Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship, University of Strathclyde.

Newsletter sign up

Join our mailing-list to receive emails on the latest news, events and updates on the world of intrapreneurship.

Sign Up