Managing for innovation

Project design

IPS_Innovative Prison Systems


2005 - 2010

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Comprehensive cross-sectional innovation processes implementation in a national prison system

This project entails comprehensive innovation processes as it foresees a framework of public administration reform and managing change within the Portuguese prison system. The broad aims of this initiative consist in setting up management strategies of organisational change targeting a responsive governance model and in deploying quality management and continuous improvement practices.


  • Portugal


  • European Social Fund (EQUAL EC Initiative)


Implement a process of cultural change in the Portuguese Prison Services involving all professional groups and stakeholders.

Create internal capacity through the preparation of innovation agents to implement a Quality Management and Continuous Improvement approach.

Standardise internal critical processes and procedures and build a key performance indicators model.

Develop a prison strategy implementation device through a balanced scorecards approach.

Involve inmates in the development of active reinsertion strategies.

Develop learning resources to support the training of managers, technicians and prison guards in order to support internal innovation processes.

Involve different stakeholders in finding innovative solutions for social reinsertion of inmates.

Foster a collaborative culture through the creation of communities of practice, both on-site and online.

Expected outcomes

Skills training and personal development:

  • Implementation of an intensive skills development programme; leadership; change management; communities of practice; entrepreneurship; crisis intervention techniques, etc.;
  • Training in innovative areas with learner-centred methodologies. Application of active training methods and formation of mixed groups (different professional groups).

Creation of knowledge, information and entertainment spaces within the prisons.

Online collaboration – Communities of Practice:

  • Implementation of an online collaboration platform acting both as a communication tool and internal knowledge management support system (document repository, forum support, private messaging, process redesign validation, community members contact, etc.).
  • Promotion of different (trans functional) communities of practice around the sharing and design of different PGISP projects.

Entrepreneurship – 12 months duration:

  • Assessment week;
  • Discovery stage;
  • Business planning;
  • Business support;
  • Involvement of stakeholders and community;
  • Pre and post-release implementation options;
  • Partnership with a banking institution for micro-credit purposes.

My Guide to Freedom:

  • A reflexive portfolio put together by offenders, with a methodology based on intra and interpersonal development; it is the embodiment of the knowledge and skills acquisition in the process of learning for life after release.

Volunteer Management:

  • Needs assessment;
  • Redefinition of the volunteer support strategy in prisons;
  • Team creation and training;
  • Implementation of volunteer management programmes.

“One day in prison”: a field trip for teenagers aimed at raising their awareness about the importance of exercising responsible citizenship and preventing crime.

External communication plan: drawing up an external communication plan supported by a project website, liaison with the media, publication of articles, and presentations at conferences.

Construction of a prison management scorecard: strategic synthesis and implementation of a balanced scorecard system that enables monitoring prison strategy.

Self-evaluation of excellence in the Prison Services (Common Assessment Framework): Creation of trans functional innovation and continuous improvement teams in 4 prisons in order to enable implementation of the Common Assessment Framework (CAF).

Redesign of critical processes, including 1) Food processing; 2) Acting in emergency situations; 3) Prisoner transport; 4. Visitors; 5. RAVI Open system inside prison; 6. RAVE Open system outside prison; 7. Disciplinary procedures (inmates); 8. Appraisal and disciplinary procedures (staff); 9. Searches and security checks.

Dissemination activities:

  • The organisation of a seminar to disseminate the project’s outcomes;
  • Each pilot prison disseminated the PGISP to the prisons located geographically nearby and that have identical characteristics;
  • Inviting professionals from other prisons for periods of observation and active participation in pilot prisons;
  • Intensive training for professional staff members;
  • Production of a kit for all prison personnel in the direction of the change and what is expected of each staff member;
  • Investment in the website and communities of practice in the transfer process.

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