At the Forefront of Public Sector Innovation

Where does government innovation come from? In the United States there are examples like DARPA’s collaboration with universities and the private industry, and the CIA’s In-Q-Tel private sector partnership. In Denmark, there is MindLab, a private-public enterprise not existing within one department but expanding throughout multiple organizations which acts as something of an innovation special-op. A cross-ministerial innovation unit which involves citizens and businesses in creating new solutions for society, they are of the system, but act outside it.

“We have a loyalty and respect for the way system works, on the we also have a mandate to challenge it and to ask the tricky questions.”

This is a quote from Christian Bason‘s interview with the DorobekINSIDER. Bason is the Director of Innovation at MindLab, head of their team of uniquely skilled problem solvers. They are an organization with an annual budget and consider themselves colleagues of the government rather than contractors. Bason and his team deploy on a case-to-case basis, mapping out how improved quality of government products can be achieved, then moving out to let implementation take place. Bason explains how his group defines success, despite their broad charge:

Bason explains some of his success to his team’s ability to ask the right questions, and set the right objectives. In his latest book, Leading Public Sector Innovation: Co-creating for a Better Society, he says that there are certain keys for successful innovation in the public sector:

  • having awareness of innovation as a process in its own right
  • identifying capabilities and competencies
  • asking the right questions
  • appropriately harnessing leadership

Bason says that in America specifically there is a certain perception that technology has the potential to be a government fix-all. Bason cautions that in addition to responsible use of technology, there must be attention given to bettering the government systems behind the technology. If technology is only masking problems, it is not a real solution.

The future of government innovation is about changing the perception of what is possible, and making sure you are working toward proper changes.

To listen to Christian Bason’s entire interview, you can catch the full radio show at 
GovLoop Insights or you can
 subscribe to our iTunes channel.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

Chris Cairns

That is good stuff. I definitely agree on his point that innovation is a process that can be managed. I also like the function of MindLab in Denmark’s government. Lastly, I’ll say that I really like when you publish pieces on comparative government practices. There’s obviously a lot we can learn from how things are done around the world.

Samuel Lovett

Yes, lots of great insight from Bason and MindLab: making sure the change you seek is the change you need; better technology does not mean better gov (if technology only masks problems, it is not a real solution); focus on outcomes rather than cost-cutting.

Very interesting to view what changes they are making in Denmark, and how they view the United States. Lots to learn by seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes.

donna berean

I have tried for yrs to talk the agency I am in to flip and do things I did over the past 7 yrs, so just now, with loss of jobs and fear, being forced into reality world…try to hold places down to that 70’s era, long gone kids, calling it “stale” in the place, was stale when I entered in some places…now I get my inspiration for skits just by entering the doorways, and empty halls…days of old get degree and another degree don’t hold the gold it used to…

Joe Boutte

Seems like a great approach and application of critical thinking in government to maintain relevancy, increase efficiency, and be responsive using innovation as the catalyst. Thanks!