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Creating Innovation in Government: 3 Lessons from Todd Park

”Creating Innovation in Government”
Todd Park, U.S. Chief Technology Officer

Next generation of Government Summit

 

Todd Park closed out the opening sessions of the Next Generation of Government Summit, reviewing his fascinating path to government. Todd Park mentioned that the most amazing experience in his career has been working for the federal government. Todd Park’s presentation, as usual, was high energy, motivating and a great way to kick off Next Generation of Government 2012. Todd started off by providing lessons for driving change within government. The theme of the presentation was that change in government is possible, it’s a rewarding experience, and a necessary step to solve the complex challenges government faces.

 

Lesson 1: Team Up

Todd stated, “Whenever you have an idea, go find the three people who have had the same idea as you, years ago.” Todd advises that these people will have already thought through the idea, challenges, and will give you the opportunity to push your idea. Todd mentions that it is hard to find these people, and the way to find these people is to just network the old fashioned way.  Start talking  to people, and ask “Who are two people I should talk too,” Todd stated that he started doing this when he entered into government, and his network grew exponentially.

 

Lesson 2: Understand and Employ Principles of Lean Startup

Todd mentioned the book, Lean Startup, by Eric Ries, Lean Startup, as a critical read for anyone in government looking to become an innovator. Todd’s first lesson was to start with a small, interdisciplinary team, operate so that the people on the team aren’t silos and they are all a single integrated team. The job of the team is to understand the problem and develop the best solution. “A single collective brain to solve a problem,” stated Todd. Next, Todd challenges innovators to really think like your consumer, and talk and engage customers to understand real issues and understand what they want. 

 

The third rule is to follow rapid iteration, Todd advised to iterate super rapidly. This means to iterate from knowledge of the customer, not doing this process in months or years, but to constantly keep learning. Todd states that failure is very important, and while iterating rapidly, risk is low. Todd believes that it is way better to fail early, and then get to the end of the process, and fail after investing a lot of time, money and effort.

 

To recap, Todd’s tips are:

  • Small Agile Teams
  • Get to Customers as Soon as You Can
  • Rapid Iteration to organically arrive at what customer wants and solution that gives you best results

 

Lesson 3: Embrace “We Government”

Todd’s next tip was to embrace “We Government,” which Andrew spent some time talking through earlier in the day. “Most of the smartest employees in the world, are employed by other people,” Todd stated. Here, Todd was explaining that it is necessary to engage others, across sectors and around the United States to help solve problems.

 

Todd continued to explain the hope of liberating government data. Some examples he provided were NOAA and weather data, and how by releasing this data, an industry boomed. Now the hope is that open data will fuel innovation across dozens of sectors, such as health care, education, and transportation.

 

“It’s incredible what you can make happen in government if you leverage these three lessons,” Todd stated. I really enjoyed Todd’s presentation, his energy and his passion for public service. You can watch his entire presentation over on GovLoop, so be sure to check it out. If you’ve seen Todd present before, he is really challenging to live blog. It’s really easy to get engaged with the presentation, and challenging to keep focused on note taking/writing, so check out the video to get see the full presentation.

 

If you want to check out the summit and were unable to attend, the conference is being live streamed on GovLoop, simply head over to the homepage of GovLoop and you’ll find links and resources to follow throughout the day. Since you can’t join us in person, we hope you’ll follow us digitally! Also, follow the conference using @nextgengov and #nextgengov, posting on GovLoop using Nextgen.

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