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


By GovFresh · July 31, 2012

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.