Hello PPMA and friends,
Well, some things never change and Eurovision is one of them as I discovered at the weekend! Going to my first ever Eurovision party, I was much struck by how little it had changed since I used to watch it with my Granny. She it has to be said was quite a character and was very fond of telling me how much she thought life had improved since her young days. I recall her being particularly appreciative of punk rock and washing machines, though I was never sure in which order!
So, “innovation”. With the velocity and breadth of the change facing the public sector, how many of us are thinking about innovation and the part it has to play?
There is recognition across the public sector that we need to encourage new thinking and develop new insights if we are to keep pace with the demands on our services. Practically, though, how do we do that, given the complex nature of many of our organisations and the degree of established professional thinking that is the bedrock of what we do?
Here is my personal starting checklist:
- In today’s digital world, is there a clear technology vision we can put at the front of the innovation process?
- Are there blockages to innovation? And if we removed them would it make a difference? Often the best ideas emerge, despite of, rather than because of, the system!
- A new idea on its own will not be enough- it has to be useful too! So wild and wacky may be interesting but not for long!
- It matters how our leaders think about innovation and creativity. Is encouraging ideas part of the way we do business?
- Do we encourage and nurture innovative thinking or do we always start by focussing on faults, shortcomings and weaknesses in the proposal under discussion? We will always need to identify and address any drawbacks, but avoid starting from there.
- Do we encourage risk and enterprise at all levels of the organisation? Is everyone encouraged to feel they can have a say?
- Often, innovation emerges from bringing new disciplines to old problems. A lot of creativity comes from seeing something in one place and taking it across to another. What can we do to encourage cross organisational thinking?
- Do we need a dedicated “R & D” capacity?
- Is there a love of learning in the organisation?
Much has been written about the need for a burning platform to really encourage innovation. Well, it’s true that burning platforms do focus the mind. For me though, if our organisations are to steer a sure course through the turbulent waters we find ourselves in, then innovation needs to be a way of life.
Until next week,