I just posted this under the Innovation Fund discussion and thought it might be valuable here…
I’ve recently been involved in writing a co-writing a chapter, for a book being published by the London School of Economics, on Design Thinking in the Public Sector with Christian Bason, Director of MindLab in Denmark. MindLab has been working on public sector innovation and strategies for 10 years and is funded by three Danish Ministries. My part of the chapter focused on the United States and Italy.
To say the least, there is much more going on outside the United States, with a much broader systems agenda, then the US focus on Gov 2.0, websites, apps, data and technology. Excellent models exist, using interdisciplinary teams, ethnography, human centered design and co-creation to address the wicked and challenging problems facing so many countries, including our own.
Establishing an innovation lab includes creating a strategic theory of change, values and by it’s nature would include transparency and accountability. It’s critical to design an eco-system that creates consciousness and a language of innovation, capacity and strategies for innovation (it’s not random), discovering solutions through co-creation, and courage, passion and leadership. Additionally, policy has to support practice for anything to really happen.
The primary US focus on technology, has not always been accompanied by public participation and use of all the data available by the public or even agencies. If the biggest thing we can say for ourselves, since 2008 is better websites, increased transparency, accountability and improved data, we are behind other parts of the world.
Part of public sector innovation is taking risk and not getting stuck on barriers if possible. Is money really the problem or is it something much harder? Coming up with the best idea, even through a brilliant process, does not mean anything happens.
Public sector change is really hard work. The easiest part is getting people to the table and getting them excited about possibility. The United States could easily partner up with partners around the world to move the innovation agenda forward with informed processes and intelligence.
No one can yet say it’s all done by any means, but I wouldn’t judge the state of the field by what we have done here so far.
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