Launched August 2013, the Microtainer series was created and curated by Satsuko VanAntwerp of Social Innovation Generation. The MaRS Solutions Lab is excited to take on this legacy to spread information that will be interesting, insightful and useful to lab practitioners and the lab-curious. To access the whole archive of microtainers, please visit SiG’s Microtainer page. 

Interesting resources that came across our desks in the month of October 2015 (in no particular order):


1. MindLab’s “Ready, Stead, Prototype – Design Guide for Prototyping” 

Great list of learnings and best practices to inform prototyping as an activity to realize innovation. My main takeaway was the idea of “prototype” vs. “provotype” – how the latter is designed to provoke a discussion in the development of new ideas and initiatives.

2. Reboot’s “Seeking the Sweet Spot” on government support 

As implementors and innovators, where is the sweet spot for political support to push ideas forward and generate impact in the real world? Kerry Brennan writes a wonderful reflection on how having too little and too much could reflect negatively on a project.

Microtainer Nov 2015 MaRS Solutions Lab

3. Gabriel Kasper + Justin Marcoux’s piece on the Stanford Social Innovation Review: How to Find Breakthrough Ideas

What are the pros and cons to different strategies to incite innovation? The authors detail their findings on 5 of these strategies – Challenges and Prizes, Intentional Networks for Seeking Ideas, Partnerships with Incubators, Accelerators, and VC Investors, Social Innovation Labs and Convenings, and Fellowships and other People-Based Strategies. (Disclaimer: MaRS Solutions Lab is featured in this article)

4. Christian Bason’s wonderful slidedeck Designing for Systemic Change: Towards a Design Society

Christian Bason (formerly MindLab, now Danish Design Center) on design thinking as a methodology to include practices in creating value for business and society, looking at “Design Policy” and “Design Leadership” specifically. I loved the below slide on the 6 design engagements, showcasing the actions and values of design to generate value.

Microtainer Nov 2015 MaRS Solutions Lab

5. Sad to hear that Participle is closing their doors

Read Hillary Cottam’s speech and explore their learnings here.

6. InWithForward’s Sarah and MindLab’s Jesper co-writes Inside or Out? IWF vs. Mindlab

Wonderful collaboration between InWithForward MindLab in exploring how being within and outside government may lead to different approaches and results. A great signal of the importance for lab-to-lab learning, as labs are still exploring which approaches and methodologies work best under what circumstances.

7. The Hasso-Plattner-Institut releases the First Design Thinking Study Proves Successful Application in Companies

Findings from the first “Design Thinking Study” from 235 participants shows positive results of the design thinking methodology for both for-profit and non-profit organizations.


\Microtainer Nov 2015 MaRS Solutions Lab


8. ICYMI: Roger Martin’s What is Design Thinking anyway?

Just found this in October – it’s an oldie but a goodie. “A person or organization instilled with that discipline is constantly seeking a fruitful balance between reliability and validity, between art and science, between intuition and analytics, and between exploration and exploitation. The design-thinking organization applies the designer’s most crucial tool to the problems of business. That tool is abductive reasoning.”