Notes from National League of Cities: How To Inject Innovation into Local Government

Another day at the National League of Cities Congress and Exposition, another opportunity for insight. Right now, I’m in a workshop being led by Patrick Ibarra entitled “How To Inject Innovation into Local Government.” Ibarra is the Co-Founder and Partner of The Mejorando Group based in Glendale, Arizona.

Here are some of my notes from the session:

Let’s Talk About Language
– Current language gets in the way of innovation
– We need new vocabulary in government, like passion, imagination, pride, innovation, results, explore, think different, 100 things 1% better, entrepreneurship
How do we leap across the chasm between order and chaos?
– Government needs to create more room for chaos.

What Is Innovative Nowadays?
– Elvis, jet travel, TV remote control, email? They all were at one time! Now integrated into culture.
– What’s innovative now becomes commonplace eventually – how quickly will you embrace ultimate reality?
– There’s a gap between citizen expectations and workforce capabilities – the greater the gap, the greater the chance for disappointment…yet the first thing we cut is training to develop our people

Rethink Competition
– If you do things the way everybody else does them, why do you think you’re going to do any better?
– Who are you borrowing from? Other gov only or anyone doing it awesome anywhere?
– Need to ask: who are competitors to city services? Other government jurisdictions, universities, non-profits. Know them…then research, analyze and learn from them!
– What are the ways (a) you and (b) these other providers can improve services and programs?

Reconnect With Customers
– Revisit the idea that conceived your organization and determine how it’s evolving.
– Survey less, listen more.
– Find it, fix it and follow up!
– Identify what makes your organization distinctive to your customers.
– How can your organization strengthen its brand and stay “hip”?
– Social media – what is your city doing?

Redesign Work
– What is the “cause” statement for your organization?
– How does your organization’s standing in the talent market enhance its position in the service market?
– Recruitment, promotion and performance management are essential.
– What conditions are needed so great people can do great work?
– Great ad: “Adventurers Wanted!”

Recruit the Best
– Make sure your website includes photos of young people
– Send your best people to career fairs (not the people wanting out of the office!)
– You cannot wait for the phone to ring….go get ’em!
– Let people learn on the job – “the absence of mistakes does not constitute success.”
– Social capital is all you have – it’s really about trust…and it’s fragile.

Innovation Equation
– Idea x Customer Value x Execution = Innovation
– Q: What’s the difference between a pain killer and a vitamin? A: Proactive mindset.
– You’re not trying to be the cover of the magazine; just get better every day.
– What’s more difficult – going from 0 to 1 (start), 1 to 0 (stop) or 1 to 1,000 (expand)?

Leave a Comment

One Comment

Leave a Reply