“Together San Rafael” Innovation Learning Lab

Client Need

The City of San Rafael seeks to modernize outdated processes and service delivery models through a digital-first, human-centered approach and has recognized the need to foster employee ownership in the effort. The City intends to build upon ongoing efforts to support creative problem solving by employees at all levels of the organization. The overall innovation initiative, Together San Rafael, sits at the intersection of strategies to create an improved customer experience for residents while supporting an internal culture of continuous improvement through an engaged and empowered workforce.

Our Approach

The CivicMakers team partnered with the City of San Rafael’s City Manager’s Office to co-create a training program that supports Together San Rafael’s Guiding Principles for  for embedding a culture that values creative idea generation by employees at all levels.

We began by helping to assemble an Advisory Committee made up of a diverse cross-section of staff across the organization. We worked with the Committee to identify baseline success metrics and methods to encourage employee engagement in the process. We also worked closely with the Committee to co-create a Learning Lab designed to build capacity for creative problem solving.

We have “graduated” two cohorts of about 60 City employees, from Directors to frontline staff, and are working on integrating feedback into the design of Learning Lab 3.0. Along the way, we are handing off some of the facilitation and coaching to employees so the methodologies are successfully socialized after our engagement.


  1. Communications plan, project messaging framework, and baseline success metrics
  2. Creation of, and engagement with, a staff Advisory Committee
  3. Curriculum design for staff trainings (“Learning Lab”) in human-centered design, project management, collaborative process, presentations, and facilitation skills
  4. Pilot Learning Lab training program and second rollout


  • Client: City of San Rafael
  • Dates: January 2017 – ongoing
  • Services: Change management, program design, training, facilitation, evaluation
  • Team: Judi Brown, Cristelle Blackford, Lawrence Grodeska


“CivicMakers has been a true partner – we have worked together to co-create a custom program that is inspiring a culture of innovation and collaborative problem-solving across our entire workforce. Their team listens to ‘who we are as a City’ and provides sage guidance that is informed by vast experience. They have helped us evolve as a local government organization and have challenged us to ‘up our game’ by integrating user-centered design principles in how we deliver our services to the community.”

– Cristine Alilovich
Assistant City Manager, San Rafael, CA