Overcoming Barriers to Implementing Government Innovation

In my previous blog, I wrote about ways to increase your agency’s innovation quotient by helping employees generate bigger and bolder ideas. Now I want to focus on another part of the innovation quotient – implementation. There are several common barriers, both external and internal, to implementing innovative ideas in government institutions. Government simply cannot act as nimbly or swiftly as the private sector due to stricter budgets, limited funds and a lack of taxpayer support for what might be viewed as frivolous spending. Internal barriers can arise from a shortage of designated staff to provide oversight and monitoring of implementation or if a Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle isn’t utilized.

External Barriers

External barriers to implementing innovation have one common denominator – story telling. Government needs to do a better job of telling our success stories about positive government innovation! Public support is necessary to help drive legislative funding for innovation. There are many examples of government entities that managed to implement successful innovation.

Let’s spread those stories generously to support our own innovation and the innovation of other government agencies. Collaborating and cooperating across agencies and states will help provide the hard evidence needed to build public support for funding. We can learn from each other and then use those success stories to catalyze innovation in our own communities.

Internal Barriers

Internal barriers to implementation are most often the result of a lack of agency commitment to designated staff time for innovation. A Plan-Do-Check-Act process requires time and dedication that most staff simply can’t negotiate into their workdays unless explicitly written in their work plans.

Modifications and changes to original plans are a normal part of the innovation process. Allow employees to make mistakes and to adjust plans to achieve successful outcomes. Employees want to know they are supported not only in implementing ideas but also learning from their mistakes and making revisions when needed.

Innovation is all about continuous improvement and ongoing change. This can be accomplished more successfully when you build your agency’s innovation quotient. The three key elements are a system to capture and manage innovation, a process for generating creative ideas and a commitment to support implementation.

Government can be an innovator, it just takes more time and a broader commitment. Share your awesome success stories as a catalyst to ignite more innovation. For us, it’s about making things better for our communities and our constituents. That’s an idea we can all get behind!

Kimberly Nuckles is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here.

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