The theme at the recent Public Sector Quality Fair, held on Feb 5th, 2013 at the Ottawa Aviation Museum, was change: “Embracing Change; Seizing Opportunities;Transforming Organizations. ” This topic prompted an unplanned similarity in presentations: the use of the same quotation during several talks. Albert Einstein writes: “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them.”
On the surface, this quotation seems to call for innovation, new technology, and new solutions to old, unsolved problems. But, on a deeper level, it also suggests that asking the right questions to identify the problem is just as important, albeit much trickier. How can you identify a problem when traditional processes make it invisible, unknowable? How can we find out when the level of thinking used prevents it?
The difficult answer is that we have to begin to ask new kinds of questions. We cannot only be radically different in our approaches and responses, but also in our questioning of how the problem came to be in the first place.
What are your thoughts? On a practical level, how can public servants, who are confronted daily with engrained structures, knowledge and practices, begin to question and to innovate in the public sector?