Where is the next opportunity for ‘Disruptive Innovation’ in government?

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This topic contains 30 replies, has 16 voices, and was last updated by  Steve Ressler 5 years, 9 months ago.

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  • #155846

    Mark Sullivan
    Participant

    See the attached HBR article which includes a short video interview with Clay Christensen, author of ‘The Innovator’s Dilemma’

    http://blogs.hbr.org/video/2012/03/disruptive-innovation-explaine.html?awid=5522763383912502574-3271

  • #155906

    Steve Ressler
    Keymaster

    Good question – any ideas Mark?

    To me a lot of it revolves around new ways to solve gov’t problems – public/private partnerships, challenges, interagency partners….less budget = more creative problem-solving

  • #155904

    Mark Sullivan
    Participant

    I would agree that the next big ‘disruptive innovation’ will focus on how we partner on signifcant public issues…although I probably wouldn’t limit it to just public/private partnerships!

    Current practice in many government organizations is to ‘go it alone’, and rely on our own resources and expertise to solve big problems. However, I believe the big problems we face today are too complex for any one organization or sector to solve. Relating it to Clay Christensen’s work, government organizations often have a disincentive to collaborate because those collaborations both appear too costly, and of too little value to established stakeholders.

    I have been encouraged to see a number of partnerships between organizations and individuals across the social sector (including public, nonprofit, philanthropic, and private organizations). Some great examples include partnerships between local governments and philanthropic foundations, as well as innovative ventures such as Code for America, Teach for America, and Challenge.gov (not to mention the innovative work of both GovDelivery and GovLoop!)

    I think there are also some significant opportunities to share efforts and services within government across both departments and jurisdictions. It’s been fascinating to watch the work of the several State CIO’s who are collaborating on a common platform to share GIS data. It would be great to see similar efforts across all areas of government!

  • #155902

    Steve Ressler
    Keymaster

    I really like this line “the big problems we face today are too complex for any one organization or sector to solve” – plus I’d also add the cost of collaboration is shrinking every day as it’s easier than every to collaborate (from social networking – govloop, twitters of world to skype, google+hangout, etc)

  • #155900

    Larry Cooper
    Participant

    Everyone should be thinking about using the incentive prize authority granted executive agencies in the reauthorization of the America Competes Act. Learn more about Government Prize Competitions at the Challenge.gov website.

    Here is a recent story about using prize competitions as disruptive approaches.

    Intentionally Unreasonable Government
    http://www.governing.com/columns/mgmt-insights/col-government-transformation-disruptive-hypothesis.html



  • #155898

    Robert Giggey
    Participant

    I’ve thought about this before (had read Seeing What’s Next a few years back – definitely recommend), but struggled to see the relationship with Gov’t organizations besides the common problem of large organizations ignoring small opportunities that could turn big if allowed to proceed. However, I’m wondering if the “government as a platform” concept doesn’t fit? This is the idea that governments don’t have to provide all of the end solutions but simply provide the means for others to do it, the platform, e.g. providing APIs for municipal 311 services allows others to create the web and mobile app interfaces for the residents so gov’t can focus resources on the back-end services, and the same is happening with transit data, and has already been happening with weather data and GPS for years. The comparison they use is to the iphone serving as a platform for the app developers instead of trying to build all of the apps themselves – and I think it’s safe to say that the iphone/itunes has been disruptive.

  • #155896

    Dennis Boyer
    Participant

    I’d like to see more on meaningful public participation: citizen juries, participatory budgeting, deliberative polling, deliberation days, etc.

  • #155894

    Brian Dowling
    Participant

    Seems that you have to have an HBR account to see the video but I would recommend having one anyway. The video brings up a number of important questions and issues for people interested in governance (as opposed to those who work for governments) to think about. Despite Disruptive Innovation (or DI for short) coming out of the private economic sector, I do believe that DI will play an important role in government related community and economic development efforts.

    An important aspect cited in the video is that Christensen when speaking to Andy Grove of Intel did not try to tell the CEO what to think about DI and its impacts but how to think. A good deal of the new government focus on the Internet, and social media is data or past focus. This is necessary but we also need to move to better forward looking theories of community participation. I see this as an important component of the issues raised in the article Citizen Participation in Government and Journalism: a Future to Emb… Posted by Gadi Ben-Yehuda.

    The video also challenges us to think if government in its institutional form has created a “market” of whose “wealth” consists of being politically connected that keeps the current political power structure in place. This goes from the friend of the councilperson who can get his permit issued faster or gets more time to correct a property violation to lobbying access to Congress not enjoyed by everyday citizens. Is there also an unserved market that with the growing availability of Web 2.0 technology makes Gov 2.0 all the more possible? This would suggest that there is a potential for DI in the realm of governance. Another DI concept not cited in the video is the concept of Job2BDone.

    A ‘privatize all government services’ approach could claim to be a DI strategy but the Job2BDone concept is central and is more than simply doing things cheaper. Part of the success of DI is that people are willing to accept something that in truth does not work all that well if it does directly the job that they want to have done. My perhaps idealistic view is that what people really want is great communities not cheaper services. A DI approach to community governance could potentially bring that about. The development of DI along a growth curve of the institution being impacted, once established, is fairly unstoppable because of the nature of the institution being disrupted. A DI governance strategy can be embedded into the institutional framework similar to what PayPal did with Ebay.

    DI started out DT or Disruptive Technology but it was soon realized that it was the process of how new technology was being used that defined the disruptive process and changed the direction of innovation. The same process by the public sector will not copy what happened in the private sector but it will in many ways be parallel.

  • #155892

    Brady Brookes
    Participant

    Great topic! A leadership/higher ed group in Washington State will be hosting Henry Eyring (Clay Christensen’s co-author) and others for a day long conference specifically about Disruptive Innovation. Conference entitled “INNOVATING, ADAPTING, THRIVING.” Please see website if you have interest. Mr. Eyring has posted a PDF document of interesting pre-conference reading materials as well:

    http://dev.theassociationctc.org/?page_id=194

  • #155890

    Mark Capaldini
    Participant

    What about disruptively innovating in how government shares information with the public? Today there are multiple inexpensive digital communication channels (email, SMS, social media, event-triggered alerts, websites) that enable very timely, very specific information sharing with individuals. Government has started to take advantage of these options, but still relies heavily on printed and mailed material, libraries, data aggregators, specialty publishers or traditional consumer media to inform the public. Why not provide more electronic alerts, via subscription, to let individuals receive the information they want, in the channel they prefer, with the frequency they desire?

  • #155888

    Alan Day
    Participant

    The disruptive impact to government will come from moving away from discrete, independent operations that use process measures to gage success and toward integrated, coordinated approaches that employ outcome measures on a citizen centric, or jurisdicsion asset based approach.

    The ERP wave ran through private industry and replaced lots of stove pipe operations with integrated, monolithic systems. The second wave in industry is to integrate the remaining systems so they interoperate, and to integrate data around customers so that customer impact and resulting profits can drive the overall company.

    Government serves constituents, but we don’t measure our investments and efforts by constituent impace, even though nearly half of all state budgets are devoted to supporting health and self-sufficiency of individuals. Integrating data across programs around clients can provide result driven mesures, and coordinated and interoperable systems and services/benefits can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the investments we’re making.

    In cities we focus on people, organizations, and assets (housing, buildings, transportation, etc.). Yet we still measure and deliver our services in discrete, independent packages, rather than based on constituent need or intention.

    Two points of integration in our IT systems can help. Multi-modal access methods are all the rage, and can allow constituents, customers, vendors, etc., to access city information and services from anywhere, anytime. We also need to do the behind the scenes integration however, to truly get the results we want. Linking data across systems about constituents can point out which departments can coordinate their services since they serve the same constituents. System interoperability, ESB’s and workflow tools, and the like, can allow our systems to coordinate data changes, events, calculated triggers, and decisions so constituent intentions (starting a business, renovating a house, etc.) which touch multiple agencies can help coordinate activities. constituent and area specific data aggregation and analysis can create the outcome measures that avoid process centric KPI’s (delivered # of home visits or parent meetings vs fewer drop outs with more impactful but fewer interventions.

    Integration, coordination of services, as well as the IT analog of shared IT functions, staff and services that eliminate duplicate functions within all the various departmental centric systems will, I think be a very positive disruptive change.

    Moving from process drivers to outcome drivers would be a huge and positive change for government, I think.

  • #155886

    Alice M. Fisher
    Participant

    Disruptive Innovation ruffles feathers and wherein “Group Think”mentality which in theory says, don’t upset the “apple cart”, just hunker down and do your job and task(s) at hand.

    1) Our economy and our agencies function by large masses of people not upsetting the “apple cart,” and said fear of upsetting the apple cart gets people labled as upsetters, and are those who are deemed “not riding on the same bus” as the influencer groupies.

    2) So I ask, can Disruptive Innovation really work? Statistically it takes government about 10 years to move the needle of MAJOR change? It takes a community/businesses about 5 years for major change and an individual about a year for major personal life changes.

    3) Therefore, to disrupt & to innovate simultaniously would require someone to take huge RISKs to upset the “apple cart” so to speak”, thereby breaking out the standard GROUP Think Mentality which so many have become entrenched in and molded by to operate successfully in business and government.

    4) So in theory I further pose and expand the question….what if the product is “The Budget” (i.e., THE US Budget, Federal Agency Budgets, State Budgets, Town Budgets) Can Government Fix Budget problems using Games between key budget officers and the public? In theory, yes!? Going after new angles to solve problems with new ways of thinking, right? Well the larger quuestion is not so much about theory, but WHO is really willing to risk?

    5) The following link is a very recent PPT Slideshare example of a great idea regarding “Disruptive Innovation”: Fixing Government Through Games

  • #155884

    Alice M. Fisher
    Participant

    Just found it, here is that Link Fixing Government Through Games

  • #155882

    Brian Dowling
    Participant

    Something for government-types to keep in mind. There is innovation and there is disruption but throwing both in the same sentence is not the same as Disruptive Innovation described by Professor Christensen. Many of the ideas being expressed are actually improved examples of sustainable innovation that will hopefully ‘disrupt’ read here bring about meaningful change. This is a worthwhile objective but true disruptive innovation would not merely improve service it would change the power structure. Government types should also keep in mind that under a Disruptive Innovation scenario that unless you plan to go through a process of innovation creating true self disruption (something which is likely harder for public sector than it is for private sector and it is hard for private) you have a greater chance of being the disruptee than you do of being the disruptor.

  • #155880

    Joe Williams
    Participant

    A recent article on HBR talked about using the built-in advantages Government has in certain situations (dominant buyer, market shaper) as a route to disruptive innovation in the public sector, in areas such as education, defense, and health care. It’s worth a read.

    http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2012/03/disrupting_the_public_sector.html

    In my own little corner of the public sector, we are seeing the emergence of commercial space companies that has the potential for disruptive innovation on access to space, thus opening up the space frontier…as long a Congress doesn’t meddle and overly-restrict the effort. (Unfortunately, recent signs are just that.)

  • #155878

    Dennis Boyer
    Participant

    Good ideas!

  • #155876

    Dennis Boyer
    Participant

    You’re on target in looking to the language framing these types of things. In static environments even concepts like “paradigm change”, “shift” , and “transition” are disruptive to some.

  • #155874

    Bill Brantley
    Participant

    Good question and good reference to Christensen’s work. In all of his books, you see the importance of culture in promoting innovation. The US Army realized the value of culture in promoting innovation when they produced “Adapt or Die.” Also available as a PDF.

    Changing government’s culture to sustainable innovation and tolerance for experimentation is the best opportunity for disruptive innovation.

  • #155872

    Tim Schnese
    Participant

    Next changes I suspect is a BRAC for non-defense government services to see how much is duplcative in nature, and to measure government programs effectiveness, efficiencies, and tax dollar frugality. The watch word will be to pair back duplicative government programs by several departments or agencies. One agency having lead on program issue, agencies will compete with private contractors to provided government service. Review of federal resources to see if additonal money can be made or derived from said resources such as government lands, waters, or government services which are low in fees or have no fees currently. Justification to pay down $15T plus budget deficit before whole system goes over a cliff. Running a government agency like a business with a working business plan model and measuring metrics subject to a GAO review to Congress were a bad grade would result in agency being considered for reduction or elimination of specific programs or agency all together if the service coudl be provided through another means which is more cost effective. Elimination of career status for employees to a more hire and fire at will in order to adjust number of employees based on the flexible budgeting where efficiencies and cost savings would allow for management to be paid a significant bonus for finding ways to save money in a given budget.

  • #155870

    Mark Sullivan
    Participant

    Excellent! I would really like to see this model exported to state and local government!

  • #155868

    FD Maguire
    Participant

    While I would not want to dare to be so bold to say we are the “next opportunity” (numerous great efforts out there), our believe our efforts in now launching Virtual Flight Academy live represents one of the opportunities for disruptive innovation in government. We are a nonprofit youth aviation career development program (CDP) focused on seeing how many of the classes that are taught in the first 18 months of military flight training can be taught online starting 5 to 10 years earlier via volunteers/former military aviators to pre-screen aspiring aviators. Additionally, we have put together a package that replicates the majority of the initial air bases flown in military flight training and combined that with virtual replicas of the aircraft. We believe that the model for military aviation training should be like any pro-athlete or Olympian and start a decade earlier than has been our traditional model for military aviation entry training that has fundamentally remained the same since WWII.

    With the support of the Falcon Foundation at the Air Force Academy, we have already begun virtually flying with cadets at an academy prep school where the instructors are states away but in the same virtual cockpit over the same virtual airfield with other student/instructors joining soon. We have been given the open door to take this further with those with orders to flight school yet months away from their start date. The effort enjoys the formal written endorsement and support of numerous retired Admirals and Generals and getting some help from various people/offices on the active duty side.

    While the numbers thrown around by people has varied, the estimated cost of training a single military aviator has always been stated in the millions. As our program matures, we believe we have the realistic opportunity to show the largest cost training per student trained in the history of our country. I realize that may sound like hyperbole, but it is really just the math. Combing the fact that aviation entry training process is incredibly expensive (most expensive training program fully paid for by taxpayers) with the fact that just a 1 to 2% change in attrition and drop-on-request rates creates significant hard dollar savings makes our goal more reasonable than one might think on a first pass consideration.

    You can find our LinkedIn group here:
    http://www.linkedin.com/groups?about=&gid=4347268&trk=anet_

    I will say as an ending note that real disruptive innovation inside large government entities is almost always very hard to do. I started with this idea back in 1996 and have spent years on it both in uniform, then as a nonprofit, back in uniform, and then again as a nonprofit from which we are now launching. Until the last couple of months, we purposefully sought to keep a low profile until all things were ready.

    Over those years while seeking to keep a low profile, I have read a lot of people talking about the need for large scale change/innovation, both in comments in online groups like GovLoop here or other articles and writings. I suspect the ratio between those seeking to play a role in “thought leadership” in regards to government innovation versus actually getting their hands dirty doing or deeply supporting a disruptive innovation effort in government is not what I would hope. The reason I believe such is the imbalance I read of all the “rah rah” to people to step out for government innovation but a dearth of sober commentary that it is typically highly detrimental if not complete career suicide to do such.

    People that know me know that I am highly positive and a ‘charge the hill’ kind of personality. But, in private conversations, I have still pressed in past dialogues around this topic that one must believe in their effort way beyond any potential value to self. A study of past disruptive innovators should cause one to pause and realize it can easily be a significant loss to the initial innovators in government who made it happen while still being a strong net gain to the larger community. In military circles, you only have to look as far as Colonel Boyd to see someone who theories on war fighting (OODA Loop, etc.) and other efforts had far more impact that most 4 star flag officers could ever hope to claim and yet the old boys network put a glass ceiling on him at Colonel. You have to value your impact more than your position or reputation. To paraphrase Colonel Boyd as someone far, far smarter than me, the fork in the road between seeking to “do something versus be someone”.

  • #155866

    FD Maguire
    Participant

    Extremely well said. The alterations to the power structure, whether the intention or just a by-product of the disruptive innovation, can cause far more challenges to get the change through the system than most people realize.

    I also think it is wise to stress here that the free marketplaces typically do this poorly as well. You lightly touch upon this. The free marketplace companies have the pressures of creative destruction/competition constantly pressing against them that large government entities that often have many monopolistic attributes simply do not. If it is as hard for a company such as great as Kodak once was in the industry to effectively transform, how much harder it is for our government monopolies.

  • #155864

    Mark Sullivan
    Participant

    Excellent analogy. I’ve heard this framework described as government by network, rather than government by bureaucracy. Part of the challenge is getting decision makers to ‘let go’ when stakeholders within the current political equilibrium are pressuring them to hold on tight.

  • #155862

    Mark Sullivan
    Participant

    Brian, I share your idealistic view that “what people really want is great communities not cheaper services.” How do you specifically think disruptive innovations can be introduced without neutralizing backlash from those who favor the status quo?

  • #155860

    Mark Sullivan
    Participant

    Very thughtful point (and follow-on discussion). So how do we promote DI, or at last create a safe harbor for provocateurs, in a system that will try to neutralize efforts to disrupt the power structure?

  • #155858

    FD Maguire
    Participant

    I would say a great deal depends on context which is almost always the case. I know that is a ‘non answer’ to some degree but is true none-the-less. So many questions such as do you have top leadership to dictate the innovation (still not a guarantee of success but dramatically increases the odds), is a single camp that you need to get to change or multiple camps, etc.

    Without looking at the lay of the land on specific disruptive innovation efforts and the pertinent challenges/points of resistance, my global thought has always been that the skunk works model seems to be the most likely to succeed on average.

    The leaders of the skunk works would need to have direct access to top leadership. Give the innovative efforts a chance to take root, improve, iterate, and pivot in a protective environment for a little bit before rolling out on a larger scale where the pot shots are going to start happening. The only problem I have seen with some of these kind of activities is they tend to get loaded with people titles and high degrees. Let me stress that I have absolutely nothing against higher degrees (plan to go further myself) as long as they have some deck plate experience making innovation actually happen versus just reading/writing/speaking.

    Everyone points to DARPA. This organization is culturally well aligned for engineering/technology/science innovation with some incredible successes but poorly designed for business model disruptive innovation. If you look at Christensen’s example used in the video and in other materials about the mills, it was not bleeding edge technology that was the disruptive innovation but rather technology a few steps along that got baked into a new way of doing business.

    I have also thought for years that we need BINS (Business Innovators for National Security). We have had the organization of BENS (Business Executives for National Security) for a long time. How about an entity that is pulling some of the top experienced folks in Silicon Valley at funding innovation and getting them to provide their perspectives/wisdom/experience? I am specifically talking about those that are placing money bets on innovation versus the actual innovators themselves.

  • #155856

    Mark Sullivan
    Participant

    Cool! Alice, you should start a new discussion thread on this!

  • #155854

    Long Ranger
    Participant

    Good luck on the Government by network concept. The Government is a political organization, lead by politicians. The only time a politician will say – “do away with bureaucracy” is when that politician wishes to place himself in the position that bureaucracy now holds.

  • #155852

    Long Ranger
    Participant

    You wish to see the public determining legal and budgetary issues based in ignorance? That is what you will have here. The public does not have the information, in-depth knowledge or the specific understanding of a desired service or goods to determine budgetary issues. The average person on the street has not been trained in Law or legal issues. Do you think that these venues of legal and budgetary issues do not require an in-depth understanding and knowledge? That the average person on the street could or should determine what the Country’s policies are on say nuclear energy, radioactive waste disposal, transportation, health, education, etc.? I agree that the public should have input and that those making decisions should be held accountable but you cannot seriously think that the public can decide policies, procedures, legal and budgetary constraints without knowledge of what is being decided.

  • #155850

    Karen Trebon
    Participant

    Thanks for the plug Larry. I am the proud Deputy Program Manager of Challenge.gov. Happy to talk to anybody about it anytime. 202-501-1802. [email protected]

  • #155848

    Robert Giggey
    Participant

    Maybe Code for America’s new Accelerator program will offer up some diruptive innovations?? http://codeforamerica.org/accelerator/

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