Weekly bits of interest – 12 July 2010

Some interesting articles from the past week:

  • In this post Dr Tim Kastelle from the University of Queensland looks at the need for organisations to concentrate on an overall innovation system, rather than just a single solution. “Don’t look for the silver bullet, one-size-fits-all solution to create innovation within your organisation. There isn’t one. Instead, work on building the multiple capabilities that are needed to make innovation work…. You need to try a bunch of stuff, see what works, and do more of that.” 1 In Empowering Change: Fostering Innovation in the Australian Public Service we outline a range of possible initiatives and suggest that agencies consider which of them can best be adapted to the innovation needs of that organisation.

  • The US Veteran Affairs Department has used an internal competition to identify the best ideas for improving its operations and services.
  • In this piece Geoff Mulgan of the Young Foundation looks at the challenges in scaling up a promising innovation. He considers a possible institutional solution for identifying and backing those with the most merit.
  • Thomas Gegenhuber of the Wikinomics blog considers how governments can ensure that crowdsourcing initiatives are not captured by particular stakeholder groups or niche views.
  • In this piece Jeffrey Phillips of the Innovate on Purpose blog counsels against letting possible constraints limit your innovation thinking. “Rather that take as a starting point our existing situation and all of the constraints as givens, as innovators we need to think about innovation as the art, not of the possible, but of the improbable or even the impossible.” 2

Please feel free to note any other interesting public sector innovation related developments or articles from the past week in the comments.

  1. This quote is not covered by the Creative Commons licence or Commonwealth Copyright. From Tim Kastelle 10 July 2010 “Why You Need an Innovation System”  http://timkastelle.org/blog/2010/07/why-you-need-an-innovation-system/
  2. This quote is not covered by the Creative Commons licence or Commonwealth Copyright. From Jeffrey Phillips 8 July 2010 “Innovation: The Art of the Improbable or Impossible” http://innovateonpurpose.blogspot.com/2010/07/innovation-art-of-improbable-or.html
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  1. Thanks for that Penny, great to hear what other agencies are doing. We in DIISR are looking at something a little bit different but hopefully equally useful. Tomorrow we’ll have a blog post from DAFF about their ideas management system that they have implemented.

  2. Great info Penny. That seems to be a simple and direct strategy for promoting really innovative ideas backed by both ATO and US department experience.

    Here in DIISR we prefer to focus on the art of innovation rather than those lower level policy aspects though, as they can get quite detailed and involved. Do you recall that bank add some years ago where we were introduced to a raft of bank managers looking out windows to better discern how our money as depositors could be better invested? Well I don’t know how that commercial bank ranks today but …

    Anyway I diverge. Your contribution was enlightening, keep it up.

  3. I was interested to read about the US Veteran Affairs Department’s innovation competition.
    We have just held an innovation competition here in the ATO – GST New Innovators. The competition is loosely styled on the ABC show “New Inventors” and is judged on the following criteria;
    1. The merits of its originality. Is the design innovative and original?
    2. Design qualities. Does the idea benefit the business line? Does it have application to the whole of the ATO or wider?
    3. Practical implementation potential. Does it provide a service for clients or assist staff?
    4. Cost of implementation. What is the cost to the business and does it provide value for money?
    5. Reputational risk.
    6. Critical need factor.
    The final was last Wednesday in Canberra where the ...

    ... four finalists presented their ideas to a panel consisting of the Commissioner, Michael D’Ascenzo and a number of other senior SES. This is the second year of the competition – three of the four finalists from last year have had their ideas implemented, and the panel have commended the finalists again this year with the intention of progressing all four finalist ideas – a great outcome. The competition will also continue next year (under a new name – Indirect Tax New Innovators). It would be good to hear if others are doing something similar.