Quote of the week
“An innovative APS starts with individual public servants wanting to try new ideas.”
— APS Innovation Action Plan
The challenge for the public sector is that so much works against innovation. The fear of taking risks and the essentially hierarchical structures that promote a rigid decision-making process make it difficult for governments to promote innovation internally.
The Australian public service (APS) approach sets the stage for creating a culture of innovation, recognizing that change will have to happen within existing government structures and processes.
It proposes four action areas: developing an innovation consciousness within the APS, giving leadership the courage in innovate, leveraging co-creation (i.e., culture change), and building capacity (i.e., providing tools).
Well and good, but where’s the beef? Well, the action plan calls for government agencies to immediately “incorporate innovation into their strategic plans.”
This is a powerful step, since one assumes that deputy heads are accountable for the outcomes of these strategic plans. But the Innovation Action Plan goes further: to bolster accountability, indicators are being developed “to facilitate the measurement of innovation performance by public agencies.”
Creating a culture of innovation means helping public servants appreciate potential opportunities and risks. An Innovation Toolkit has been designed that gives practical tips, including how to develop a business case.
The strength of the APS approach to government innovation is three-fold.
First, it moves beyond rhetoric to practicality, recognizing the realities of existing government organizational structures and providing tools to make change happen. Second, it appreciates that culture change is needed. Third, it sets up real accountability.
Check it out at http://innovation.govspace.gov.au/