It’s almost 2
years since I started to focus on public sector innovation. At that time, there was very little
interest or good quality reference material on this subject. However, things
have changed for the better, and interest on this topic is increasing, both in
New Zealand and around the world.
In my view, here are some key reasons for this change. (New Zealand context)
- Change of government … prime minister and number of key ministers with entrepreneurial backgrounds.
- Directive from Treasury to chief executives of government agencies … to cut their operating budgets, think outside the box and deliver more value for money.
- Increase of high calibre people joining the public sector … number of previously self-employed professionals and private sector employees have accepted senior management positions in public sector.
- Demand from ‘smart citizens’ to improve level of service … we are getting used to extraordinary service level’s from private sector organizations and we want public sector organizations to lift their game.
Expecting a whole government agency to become innovative is wishful thinking. However, it is possible for this to happen at a business unit level. Once a business unit start to think and work like a close-knit entrepreneurial team and create a few ‘wow’ services to their customers, over time, that energy and creativity is likely to spread to other parts of the organization.
While there are a number of ingredients required for a public sector team to embrace an innovative culture, the key ingredient is an “innovation champion” with the following attributes.
- Someone who believes his/her organization could be so much better
- A genuine desire to fulfil customers articulated and latent needs
- A ‘yes – let’s figure out how’ attitude rather than ‘no – here are the reasons why’ attitude
- Willingness to tap into external networks to complement capability and capacity of internal team
- Courage to engage and work with ‘smart citizens’ to co-create public services
As a nation, New Zealand desperately needs more ‘innovation champions’ in the public sector, who are prepared to re-imagine the future, go the extra mile, uncover hidden opportunities & create services that can add huge value to its customers and the economy of New Zealand