Boosting the ‘I’ of LOTI one year on

At LOTI’s fourth anniversary event last July, I announced our intention to boost the ‘I’ – the innovation – part of our work. This would entail beefing up our non-digital innovation methods and offering ourselves as an innovation partner to the teams leading the charge on some of London’s biggest issues, including housing, climate change and social care reform.

Almost one year on, I’d like to report back on how we’re doing against that intention.

Why more innovation?

First, let me very briefly recap why we wanted to evolve in this way. If you’ve read any of my previous blogs you’ll know that at LOTI, we feel strongly that talking about tech and data in a vacuum simply doesn’t work. Bolting on new tech to the same old ways of working delivers only superficial change. That’s why we now approach every project more holistically by thinking about people, tech, data and process together. If you’d like to know more about the LOTI model and what we focus on, I covered it in this recent article.

What’s changed?

With that context given, here are eight things we’ve done over the past year to turn that rhetoric into reality.

1 – We hired our first Service Designer. Anjali Moorthy joined LOTI in September 2023 as the team’s first Service Designer. She’s brought her deep expertise in user research and service design to bear on a whole range of LOTI projects. She’s also helped us bring a service design lens to LOTI workshops, making them more experiential and memorable through the use of templates and props (we’ve been known to use traffic cones and bricks!). They add elements of play, but serve a serious purpose of helping participants think differently.

Image of traffic cones and printed potholes being used in a LOTI workshop

2 – We’ve trained up the team. The LOTI team already had a wide range of innovation expertise, but we continuously update our knowledge. In the past year, we’ve had training from the likes of Future Foundry (on how to apply Silicon Valley-style innovation methods to local government), The Behaviouralist (on behavioural science), The Royal College of Arts on service design, as well as teaching each other about methods such as the Cynefin Framework and Continuous Improvement.

3 – We raised the profile of innovation methods with our members. LOTI’s Genta Hajri launched a series of monthly innovation Lunch & Learn sessions to expose our members to a wider innovation toolkit. We’ve covered topics such as open innovation (with Rikesh Shah, Head of Innovation Procurement Empowerment Centre), service design (with Henrietta Curzon, Head of Service Design & Insight at Newham Council), behavioural science (with The Behaviouralist and Social Change), and the art of navigating uncertainty (with Nesta).

4 – We’ve worked as an innovation partner on Net Zero. We ran a series of major workshops with LEDNet – the network of London borough environment directors – to explore where and how data can support the delivery of some of London’s most important net zero projects, such as retrofitting London’s properties with energy-saving measures. More recently, we’ve worked with the GLA Energy Unit to help them plan a data ecosystem that will support the energy aspects of net zero, as well as thinking through the service design of London’s public-facing energy advice service.

5 – We’ve worked as an innovation partner on Adult Social Care. Over the past year, LOTI has funded and supported the delivery of two pilots looking at new service models in Adult Social Care. One, involving Southwark and Hackney, explored the benefits of taking a cooperative approach to delivering care (provided by Equal Care Co-op). The other, conducted with Hounslow, Brent and Social Finance, tested how social workers’ interactions with individuals could be supported with better multi-agency data.

In January, we ran an innovation and AI workshop with London ADASS (the network of London Directors of Adult Social Care) at Amazon’s offices. And most recently, we’ve agreed to co-host the digital sub-group of London ADASS to bring more innovation tools and methods to their attention.

6 – We’ve developed London’s first ever rough sleeping data platform. This project, delivered with the GLA, London Councils, Bloomberg Philanthropies and Faculty, saw LOTI working as an innovation partner to borough housing teams. It created a Strategic Insights Tool for Rough Sleeping (SITRS) that gives decision-makers a clearer view of rough sleeping in their local area and how it fits in with the overall London picture. The new tool integrates and probabilistically matches data from 47 organisations to show the aggregated journeys of rough sleepers over time, unlocking new insights as they show up through touch points in multiple systems. The intention is that this richer data can now enable more effective interventions to support London’s most vulnerable.

7 – We’re piloting the local authority sandbox. In January, we shared LOTI’s idea to set up a local authority sandbox. This will be a physical space where new service models and technologies can be tested and evaluated on realistic mock-ups of key local government service areas without risk. The concept combines service design, technology, open innovation and even theatre to rapidly find answers to key challenge areas facing local government. We’re piloting this approach with a service challenge in Adult Social Care. The intention is to hold the first performance in October (to demonstrate the key pain points in the current model) and then work over the following 3 months with partners to develop a range of solutions, which will be performed early in 2025. The aim is to provide a means to test much bolder innovations than are normally possible in a real local authority setting.

8 – We’re running leadership sessions on innovation. LOTI has run innovation sessions with the leadership teams of several of our member boroughs. Our aim is to help those teams think about their problems differently and hopefully discover some new approaches and ways of thinking that can help them develop better solutions and manage the huge uncertainty and financial strain they face. We adapt our narrative based on the needs of each borough, but it’s largely based on our Service Innovation Cards and our recent work on 5 habits of Innovative Councils.


Reflecting on the past 12 months, I’m proud of the progress we’ve made in shifting from being just the ‘tech people’ to a more rounded and effective collaborative innovation capability for London. The tech and data expertise and projects are still there, but now they’re accompanied by a broader set of approaches that better meet our community’s needs.

Clearly, the proof will be in the impact these changes produce in time. For now, the direction feels like the right one. Look out for more blogs from the LOTI team over the coming months as we share the lessons and stories we learn along the way!

LOTI Evaluation

Eddie Copeland
25 June 2024 ·
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