How Can Leaders Empower Employees to Develop Compelling Ideas? NextGen Recap from Brian Gryth

Still going strong on day two of the Next Generation of Government Training Summit. Here’s a quick recap of the session, Stronger than All the Armies in the World, presented by Brian Gryth, Program Manager of Business Intelligence at the Colorado Department of State.

The abstract reads: Victor Hugo said, “there is one thing stronger than all the armies in the world, and that is an idea whose time has come” But in government operations, all too often ideas are left to die without a substantial consideration. This session will explore what are ideas and some of our misconceptions about ideas. It will also explore approaches to get your ideas discussed and adopted. Brian will also explore his experience in creating two new government programs in the State of Colorado.

Brian’s presentation challenged the audience to consider where ideas come from and reminded the audience that change doesn’t always have to be radical, small changes can have a big impact on an organization. Here are some bullet points on how change occurs:

  • Ideas are networks: change is more than just one individual, multiple people taking part. Ideas develop through multiple networks.
  • Ideas are sometimes incomplete: Ideas are half an idea, run into somebody else, the evolve and grow over time
  • Ideas take time: they grow, more stakeholders get involved, change and come from the collective thoughts of a team
  • You only learn when things start to break: reminds me of my favorite Bob Dylan quote, “there’s no success like failure and failure is no success at all.” You need to take risks to learn and grow.
  • Design to maximize connection of ideas and people: start thinking about ideas and talking to people – maybe grabbing coffee early, starting a book club, structured ways to collaborate and share ideas
  • Design to foster creativity and experimentation: support team and employees and create an environment where creativity and ideas are supported

What can leaders do to encourage collaboration, motivate employees and develop compelling ideas? Brian also commented on what leaders can do to create a culture and environment where ideas are supported.

  • Money is not the answer, but need to pay an equitable salary+ need to find ways to motivate and inspire people
  • Autonomy – let people work the way they need to work
  • Let people master their skills – let them succeed at what they are doing
  • Give people purpose – “We work for government, if we can’t find purpose in what we do, we need to find a different job.”

Brian ended with a quote from Viktor Frankl, which I believe was a good synopsis of the session today: “If you take a man as he should be, you make him capable of becoming what he can be”

Below is Brian’s biography:

Brian Gryth is a serial government intrapreneur and passionate advocate for civic innovation and technology driven open government. Most recently, Brian lead the effort to gain funding to create the Business Intelligence Center program and will the lead the implementation of this program over the next two years. This program will centralize access to government data relevant to businesses and implement a civic apps challenge to incentivize the tech community to use the data and create tools useful to business owners. Over the next two years, Brian will lead the implementation of the program as well. Before taking control of the Business Intelligence Center program, Brian lead the creation of the Operational Support Team in the Colorado Secretary of State’s Business and Licensing Division. Through the adoption of continuous improvement and data-driven management processes, this team has implemented more effective and efficient service delivery to the Division’s customers.

In addition to his government work, Brian co-founded OpenColorado, a nonprofit formed to help facilitate a transformation in government that will lead to a more useable and interactive government. Through the use of open source technologies, OpenColorado deployed data.opencolorado.org, one of the first community driven CKAN data catalogs in the world. This catalog makes nearly 750 government datasets accessible to the public and developer community. As part of OpenColorado’s educational efforts, Brian lead the effort to create the opengovernmentinitiative.org, which creates and publishes open government policy templates to help governments adopt and institutionalize open government in their organizations. Brian has also co-organized multiple unconferences and community events, such as Gov 2.0 Camp Rocky Mountains, CityCamp Colorado 2010, 2011, 2012, and Denver Startup Week. In order to help reach a new population of civic activists, Brian has planned or advised the planning of several civic hackathons, including Colorado Code of Communities Civic Hackathon, Hack for Longmont, and Hack4Colorado.

Brain also educates the community as a frequent presenter and panelist on the topics of trends in Open Government, data transparency, innovation, and social entrepreneurship. Brian earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Northern Colorado and a Juris Doctor, cum laude, from Hamline University School of Law.

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Profile Photo Kim Truong

“We work for government, if we can’t find purpose in what we do, we need to find a different job.” – Good quote.

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Profile Photo Samantha Holquist

I think another way leaders can encourage collaboration and motivate employees is providing realtime feedback on projects that can help spark new innovative ideas and promote employees to work together.

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Profile Photo Terrence Hill

Thanks for the recap! Someone has been reading Daniel Pinks’s book Drive. I admire those agencies who have implemented ideation systems (e.g. IdeaHub, IdeaFactory, etc.). They provide a system for percolating and refining ideas from employees. I think that all of the Best Places to Work in the Federal government have an ideation system.

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