Month: July 2012

Innovation@: how to create a system-wide culture of government innovation

Much of today’s discussion around government innovation occurs in the context of the following:

  • a designated role or department
  • open data
  • open source software
  • crowdsourcing ideas
  • challenges
  • hackathons
  • social media
  • startups or technology in general
  • a designated role or department speaking to other government employees about all or any of the above

While the above, when implemented successfully and sustainably, are great examples of how government is leveraging new thinking to implement better government, there’s a general missed opportunity amongst civic innovation leaders related to fostering a system-wide culture of innovation.

You don’t have to be an organizational expert, technology guru, chief innovation officer or work for NASA to win a gold medal in fostering civic innovation. (You definitely don’t even need a study or innovation score.)

Simply put, innovation is the ability to evaluate antiquated processes, rethink and execute a more efficient way of doing them. Often, the greatest innovations lie in simply not doing something anymore.

For those wanting to create a culture of government-wide innovation, here’s a simple plan:

  • create an “Innovation@” series
  • spotlight an agency each month (ideally hosted at the respective agency)
  • invite all government employees (and press) to attend
  • begin with a 10-minute question-and-answer session between the agency/department head and senior-level government leader
  • have designated agency employees give 5-minute presentations on how they created more efficient processes or stopped doing something (this does not include the agency/department head or the senior-level government leader)
  • end with an open question and answer session
  • do this every month
  • do this forever

By implementing an “Innovation@” series, you create a perpetual system-wide culture of sharing, learning, celebrating and uniting all public workers in believing they can innovate and have a sense of pride in doing so.

In the process, you’ll learn and do more for government innovation than you ever imagined.

Wrapping up Code for Oakland 2012

Today, I had the opportunity to attend Code for Oakland 2012 and, as always with events like this, walked away inspired by the work of good friends and the enthusiasm of citizens and public servants wanting to do more for their communities. Big kudos to all involved engaging, organizing and sponsoring a great event in a great city.

Check out Kwan Booth’s great Storify wrap-up of the event here: