Recently, there’s been some debate about creativity – or lack thereof – within the Government workforce. However, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is taking a new approach to fostering innovation. OPM has brought (or bought) a piece of Silicon Valley into its Washington, D.C.-based headquarters.
The Washington Post reports that OPM has created an employee Innovation Lab, similar to that of a San Francisco Internet start up, within its age-old Government office building.
As the “human resources (HR) agency for the executive branch of the federal government,” OPM may be on the brink of setting a new workplace trend which brings Uncle Sam into the 21st century work space.
“Descending into the subbasement, visitors will discover a portal to Silicon Valley – albeit a figurative one,” says the Post. OPM’s new Innovation Lab is “a pristine work space that brings the breezy, open-environment style of Silicon Valley straight into the industrial bowels of government.”
OPM reportedly spent $750,000 on “improvements and construction cost” for the Innovation Lab, according to the Post. Footnote: “The space is open to employees across the federal government, but the OPM staff has scheduling priority,” the Post reports.
This all raises some interesting questions:
1) Do government agencies need to spend scarce resources on “Innovation Labs” to enhance workplace creativity?
2) Will the cost – three quarters of one million dollars for OPM – be justified by meaningful results?
3) Generally speaking, how much does a work space matter in terms of generating creative ideas and fostering greater innovation?
OPM certainly deserves accolades for not only thinking outside-the-box, but acting outside-the-box as well – which is a rare occurrence within the federal bureaucracy. However, only time will tell if the newly minted Innovation Lab will lead to meaningful results that save money for taxpayers while improving workforce performance through enhanced creativty and cutting-edge ideas.
As Government employees, let’s hope so.
*** All views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author only.