If you have the time or inclination to look up quotes about innovation, you might be in for a surprise. The word “innovation” often comes with a negative connotation. Most quotes go something along the lines of this one from Voltaire: “Our wretched species is so made that those who walk on the well-trodden path always throw stones at those who are showing a new road.” Or this one by Author Richelle Mead: “Throughout history, people with new ideas — who think differently and try to change things — have always been called troublemakers.”
However, the government needs innovators, especially ones who want to make a difference for the common good. There is no single path or silver bullet for innovation, but across the government, from the federal to the local levels, employees are thinking outside the box and daring to do things differently. And it’s high time we honor that innovation.
Consider that a team of NASA researchers found flowing water on Mars after a five-year search. A Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency team designed an autonomous car that drove more than 3,400 miles across 15 states. And Minnesota connected 100,000 unemployed residents with job resources.
This is government and this is innovation.
In this annual end-of-year list issue, GovLoop analyzed the best public-sector innovations across 10 categories:
- Customer Service Stars.
- Map Masters.
- Security Superheroes.
- Process Powerhouses.
- Digital Services Standouts.
- Human Resources Rescuers.
- Acquisition All-Stars.
- Cloud Connectors.
- Data Dominators.
- Future Trends.
But we didn’t stop there. We also talked with two leaders — one at the federal and one at the state level — to pick their brains about what was really innovative in 2015.
After all, as author Robin Sharma wrote, “Dreamers are mocked as impractical,” but “the truth is they are the most practical, as their innovations lead to progress and a better way of life for all us.” So join us in viewing some of the ways government employees are innovating to improve our world.