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Leading public sector innovation

Leading public sector innovation: Co-creating for a better society

Christian Bason
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  • Book Info
    Leading public sector innovation
    Book Description:

    In a time of unprecedented turbulence, how can public sector organisations increase their ability to find innovative solutions to society's problems? Leading public sector innovation shows how government agencies can use co-creation to overcome barriers and deliver more value, at lower cost, to citizens and business. Through inspiring global case studies and practical examples, the book addresses the key triggers of public sector innovation. It shares new tools for citizen involvement through design thinking and ethnographic research, and pinpoints the leadership roles needed to drive innovation at all levels of government. Leading public sector innovation is essential reading for public managers and staff, social innovators, business partners, researchers, consultants and others with a stake in the public sector of tomorrow.

    This is an excellent book, setting out a clear framework within which the practical issues involved in public sector innovation are explored, using insights drawn from extensive practical experience of implementing and supporting it. It draws on an impressive range of research and relevant wider experience in both public and private sectors and is written in a clear and persuasive style. The book offers an excellent synthesis of principles, practices and tools to enable real traction on the innovation management problem - and it ought to find a place on any manager's bookshelf. John Bessant, Director of Research and Knowledge Transfer and Professor of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, University of Exeter Business School

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-635-2
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)

    In the heart of Copenhagen liesSlotsholmen, the Castle Islet. It is a very small island, perhaps only one square kilometre in size. In spite of the diminutive area, it houses most of the key public institutions that govern Denmark: the Parliament, the Supreme Court and a string of ministries, including Finance, Justice, and Economic and Business Affairs. Most of these departments are housed in the same interconnected block of buildings, ranging from the red-brick chancellery house from 1721, the country’s oldest office building, to the latest addition, a large five-storey modernist property from the late 1960s. It was in...

  2. 1 The innovation ecosystem
    (pp. 21-30)

    Melbourne, the capital of Australia’s state of Victoria, and a city of nearly four million people, is often touted as the city of festivals. Indeed, a recent US visitor to the city wrote on her travel blog that just during the week of her visit there were five simultaneous festivals taking place: film, fashion, food, flowers and comedy.

    It should be no surprise, then, that the state’s public service chose to launch its ambitious new Innovation Action Plan by running an Innovation Festival. In late February 2010, the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Victorian Public Service (VPS) brought...

  3. Part One: Consciousness

    • 2 Mapping the landscape
      (pp. 33-50)

      Most people usually agree with the quote above, which is from our communication strategy at MindLab. Much like ‘design’, ‘innovation’ is so all-encompassing and open for interpretation that it risks losing its meaning (Stewart-Weeks, 2010). Perhaps that is why it is almost a given at innovation conferences and seminars that some participant eventually asks ‘How do you define innovation?’

      As discussed in the introduction, public sector innovation has evolved over a number of stages since the 1970s, the momentum picking up pace, the discourse changing from ‘what’ to ‘how’. Today, most public leaders tend to agree that more positive change...

  4. Part Two: Capacity

    • 3 Political context
      (pp. 53-70)

      Some years ago, the UK Department of Education set up an internal unit to foster new thinking and new practices in education,The Innovation Unit. Part of the legislation that set up the Unit included a clause called ‘The Power to Innovate’. This enabled the Secretary of State for Education to set aside regulations or legislation if schools could show they constrained their freedom to innovate – if the schools could show that the changes they had planned would be likely to lead to the improvement of standards. The role of the Unit was to advise schools on how to...

    • 4 Strategy
      (pp. 71-86)

      In the mid-2000s, the leadership of the Danish Ministry of Taxation decided to fundamentally transform the organisation’s relationship with citizens and business. Inspired by international discussions and experiences on the future of tax administration, not least within the OECD, the top executives asked: what if we believed that the vast majority of our users want to pay their taxes correctly and on time, but don’t always know how? What if only a very small percentage of them really want to avoid compliance?

      Adopting such a perspective would entail a fundamental shift in how the Ministry conducted its business, and how...

    • 5 Organising for innovation
      (pp. 87-114)

      A few years ago, Anne Lind, the Director-General of the Danish Board of Industrial Injuries, appeared on Tuesday evening television news to face citizens whose cases had been managed by her agency. The gist of the news story was that the board, a state agency, was not sufficiently professional in assisting people in their injury settlement process, adding to their distress in an already vulnerable situation. The low point came when one of the citizens in the television studio pointed out that she had been required by the board to see her doctor concerning the exact same issue – twice....

    • 6 People and culture
      (pp. 115-132)

      Over the course of more than three years, we at MindLab asked the project managers and staff we had assisted with innovation projects a number of questions about their experience of working with us. When assessing the projects they had taken part in, the vast majority said they would, to a high degree, apply our methodologies of co-creation and citizen involvement again in future innovation efforts. We took these responses as a powerful indication that a culture change was beginning to take hold.

      Organisations don’t innovate, people innovate. The organisation is the context in which people come to work every...

  5. Part Three: Co-creation

    • 7 Design thinking in government
      (pp. 135-150)

      When the City Council of Sunderland, UK, engaged with LiveWork, a service design company to find new approaches to helping economically inactive people into work, they also engaged in an entirely different development process. Over the course of the project, the designers spent three months following 12 people to gain deep insight into their lives, and more than 280 people were involved in idea-development sessions. Building on design approaches such as ethnographic research, service journeys, fast experimentation and prototyping, LiveWork helped the city council identify a range of possible solutions that could get people more efficiently on a path back...

    • 8 Citizen involvement
      (pp. 151-172)

      ‘You have to be healthy to be able to manage a work injury case.’ This statement by an injured citizen became a significant trigger of change for the Danish Board of Industrial Injuries. The agency is by any standard a very professionally run government agency. It has a sharply formulated strategy, effective performance management systems, has digitised much of its internal and external processes, and implemented lean management, speeding up case flows and increasing case quality. However, when the agency in collaboration with MindLab conducted in-depth ethnographic field studies of four citizens with a work injury, observing their meetings with...

    • 9 Orchestrating co-creation
      (pp. 173-212)

      During the past few years, a new term has entered the Danish government’s efforts to drive regulatory reform and make it easier to start and run a small business:burden-hunting. Widely reported in the business press, civil servants ventured out to conduct on-site field research, engaging with company owners, finance officers and accounting staff to better understand what it is like to own a business and to be at the receiving end of bureaucracy and red tape (MindLab, 2008). These civil servants, from across three different government departments, had been trained by MindLab in ethnographic research techniques and, through a...

    • 10 Measuring to learn
      (pp. 213-236)

      Youth Villages is a non-profit organisation, headquartered in the state of Tennessee, that works on behalf of government agencies to serve emotionally and behaviourally troubled youth between the ages of six and 22. The organisation provides in-home and residential programmes that help children and young people improve academic achievement, make a successful transition to employment and avoid criminal activity. Most of the youth they serve have cycled in and out of foster care or are involved in the juvenile justice system. The results of Youth Villages’ efforts are remarkable: compared with traditional US child-welfare services, Youth Villages’ in-home programme has...

  6. Part Four: Courage

    • 11 Four leadership roles
      (pp. 239-256)

      The New York State Associate Commissioner of Education, Sheila Evans-Tranum, is among the highest-ranking African-American women in US state government. As the first academic in her family (she has a double major in English and mathematics), she represents a remarkable story of overcoming enormous challenges to achieve a stellar career in public service. She also embodies a philosophy that speaks very strongly to innovation, for instance having emphasised accountability at all levels of the New York state school system as a key driver of positive change in the public school system. She firmly believes that what she tries to accomplish...