S1. E19. Maggie Dugan

Maggie Dugan (Linkedin) is Founder and Lead Facilitator at Inclusive Innovation, who “foster creative collaboration for sustainable development”. Maggie has a history in creativity, whether in radio, writing or innovation.

Our focus: how Inclusive Innovation is hacking the SDGs, using a creative process with a strong track record to bring people together in ways that come up with solutions. All create a world which is more collaborative.

Nugget: Maggie promised herself when she graduated that she would quit her job at 30 and move back to Europe. She did, and that was pivotal in changing how she looked at who she was and what she did.

We spoke on 9 May 2022.



More on Inclusive Innovation’s Impact Labs.

Inclusive Innovation is the daughter company of Know Innovation, which specialises in accelerating scientific innovation.

The Creative Problem-Solving Model in overview here (clarify, ideate, develop, implement).

Centre for Applied Imagination, Buffalo State, The State University of New York.

The charity I chair is EIRIS Foundation, with the new-ish mission of ‘pioneering the next steps for sustainable finance’.

Toastmasters, to improve public speaking.


0:50 – Q1 What are you doing now? And how did you get there?
7:00 – BONUS QUESTION: What is the secret sauce of the Inclusive Innovation method which leads to results?
11:20 – Q2. What is the future you are trying to create, and why?
15:05 – Q3. What are your priorities for the next few years, and why?
BONUS QUESTION: For the Impact Labs method, do you have a sense of those boundaries of what it’s most suited to and least suited to?
21:07 – Q4. If someone was inspired to follow those priorities, what should they do next?
22:23 – Q5. If your younger self was starting their career now, what advice would you give them?
23:24 – Q6. Who would you nominate to answer these questions, because you admire their approach?
24:16 – Q7. Is there anything else important you feel you have to say?



-“I started Inclusive Innovation because one day, a colleague and friend of mine who works in the field of economic development work for Development Bank, and other sorts of organisations in that realm said to me ‘you know, what you’re doing with the scientific field, we need to do that in our field, we get these stakeholders together, they speak a different language, they have different agendas. They don’t talk to each other, we talk at each other. Sounds like we could use your innovation methods in our industry’.”

-“I like to think that we could hack the SDGs because the SDGs are huge. And, you know, but I think it’s important to have them because they give us sort of a guide guide to where we need to go. But then we need to hack them and get a little bit more surgical, and figure out how can we start to really make some impact. I know there are people who are making large impact but I think we need to make small impact too.”

-To make a innovation workshop a success: 1) use the Creative Problem-Solving Model; 2) get the right people in the room; 3) have a problem that really needs to be solved and requires imagination; 4) create a context that is warm, accepting and also focused and directed.

-“I want to just bring this process that we have, which you can use in so many different ways, but then get out of the way and let people who really know what’s happening on the ground, mix with people who have some ideas about what’s happened other places, and let them mash it up and collaborate and find solutions that maybe bring innovative solutions someplace but solutions that people who live on the ground who are impacted by the challenges, and who will be impacted by the outcomes can own.”

-“If I think about the future, I think it’s collaborative, I think it’s inclusive, I think it’s with a problem solving bent.”

-“you’re not the first person to answer in this way, which is to talk about the qualities of the future you’re trying to create now, and try to prefigure or to make more real by actually making them real now. And I think it’s something that I reflect on whether these questions are good questions, because, in a way, the question implies there’s a future over there, which we’re trying to get to, and how do we get there? But your answer is you’re trying to create the future now through these qualities of collaborative and inclusive and so on.”

-“Well, this whole idea of hacking the SDGs is something that would it’s everything I do in my life is really an experiment. It’s an experiment, to see if we can get some traction, if we could have people say, I see what you’re doing with no innovation. And we know innovation is scaling in a super way right now. It’s really quite exciting. So, you know, we know the methodology works. And so I’d like to really be able to have, my first priority is to do as many Impact Labs, we’re calling them their ideas, labs, or sandpits for new innovation, we call them Impact Labs, I’d like to see us doing as many impact labs as we can.”

-“So at the moment, I’m very much testing out all the different ways, we might be able to really transfer this methodology to the field…how do I scale back my participation and let it go into the hands of people. Not only these two individuals, but you know, the African facilitation team, let them take it on, let them make it what it is. I want to put in other people’s hands.”

-“We don’t have the idea. We just pulled together the right people. And it is the collision of their thinking that creates breakthrough ideas. And when I tell people about this, this is exactly what we need. We need to go this is something different. This will work. But they don’t fund the process. Yeah. I mean, it’s really hard to find funders have a process and I feel like know innovation was really lucky to do that and gives me hope that I’m going to find people I want to find my promises.”

-Priorities: more experimentation with the Impact Labs and more experimentation with hacking the SDGs.

-“I’ve been thinking a lot about the importance of a soul of an organisation. And how, when an organisation starts, it has this little soul and then it grows and that’s what attracts the kinds of people who can make it happen. And then, as you expand and scale, how do we preserve the components of the soul that are most important?…So I guess those are things [adoption of communication technologies in facilitation] that are on my mind that I put forward to other people to think about is you know, embracing technology but not losing our soul.”


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