Fresh Ideas in the Public Sector

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Innovation within the public sector can be complex and challenging. We understand that attitudes are changing within the public sector to focus more on innovation efforts. We’re going to be publishing a series of blogs on public sector innovation as well as hosting a webinar we’d love to see you attend if you’d like to learn more.

As an innovation service provider to public service institutions it has been interesting to observe, and also be part of leading, the change of attitude and approach to innovation. We often hear that public services face a ‘unique set of challenges’ that necessitates different approaches to other sectors. However, driven by a number of factors these opinions are noticeably starting to change and there is a clear interest and willingness to explore new ways of working within the innovation arena.

On the one hand this is being driven by the need to do more with less. Times are pretty tough for public services with increasing demand from decreasing resources. On the other hand expectations on public services continue to rise, and this applies not only to the quality and depth of service provision, but also the approaches taken to engage people in the process of identifying, selecting, and even delivering key services. This applies, to pretty much every part of the public sector, we have experience within central government with movements to open policy development, engaged and discursive ideation based consultations, engaged innovation communities, co-creation forums and centres and much more besides.

There is a noticeable and marked increase in the number of events where digital leaders from within various government departments have been talking about a need for fresh thinking and fresh approaches to general ways of working. The language is changing and influencers are pushing hard for the traditional ‘excuses’ (read: fear) within many areas to be replaced with a willingness to try new things. Steven Howell, Senior Policy and Communications Office at Localis recently told the Guardian that, in order to encourage governments to innovate, local authorities must give staff the freedom to fail and dispense with blame culture.

One of the really interesting movements is the drive towards increased openness and collaboration in innovation. Far beyond rhetoric and theory there is a tangible movement to embrace fresh ideas and approaches. Later, we will look more closely at these various approaches including a more agile approach to working, an interest in exploring services as a product (and learning therefore from product managers and product centric business methodologies), a willingness to be more inclusive, earlier in the process of ideation (we will explore this in our next post), and a recognition that collaboration and co-creation can go well beyond the boundaries of the team, department or organisation.

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