These tools have been developed to give you practical advice and guidance on how to foster innovation within your agency. If you are unsure which tools might be useful for you, you can take the Innovation Diagnostic to get a snapshot on which phase of the innovation cycle your agency might need to focus on.
The Innovation Toolkit will be an evolving resource – some of the information about certain Tools is more developed than for others. We will be adding additional information over time. The information on tools marked with a * is still being developed and will be supplemented over time. If you have additional information about these tools that you think should be included please contact us.
For those tools that are more developed, we are always looking to improve the information we provide and we welcome any feedback and suggestions – please either comment on the relevant page or add your comments on our suggestions page.
The following table shows where each tool can support the innovation process. Strategy, horizon scanning, innovation roles, people and training can support all phases. Resources and innovation teams can support all phases except generation. Innovation values, competitions and prizes, innovation markets, calling for ideas, innovation james, innovation tournaments, procurement and outsourced services primarily support generation and selection. Engagement and collaboration supports all stages other than diffusion. Ideas management systems ans experimental spaces support generation, selection and diffusion. Mechanisms of challenge, emphasising uncertainty, stage-gate systems, and pilots and trials support the selection and implementation stages. Early wins, sustaining innovations, measuring and reporting, evaluation, promotion and awards tend to support the sustaining and diffusion phases. Idea selection supports selection.
|Organising for innovation||NA||NA||NA||NA||NA|
|People and training||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Competitions and prizes||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Calling for ideas||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Ideas management systems||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|Mechanisms of challenge||No||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Engagement and collaboration||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Procurement and outsourced services||Yes||Yes||No||No||No|
|Pilots and trials||No||Yes||Yes||No||No|
|Measuring and reporting||No||No||No||Yes||Yes|
This section provides some pointers for those who may have been given responsibility for developing an innovation strategy in their agency.
Approaches to actively consider and link innovation to the agencies strategic and business planning processes.
Scanning of the environment to see new trends, potential upcoming areas for innovation and to enable the harnessing of new ideas.
Innovation roles are formal or semi-formal positions/functions within an organisation that are recognised as helping the innovation process. They may be an explicit part of job descriptions or may be more informal roles that people voluntarily take on.
People and training are key factors in supporting the innovation process. The types of people available, their skills, and their exposure to innovation are important in building and fostering an organisation’s innovation strengths.
Identifying the resources available to support the innovation process in the organisation is important in setting the framework.
Innovation can be complex or daunting at times. It can be difficult for an existing team or individual to undertake an innovation at the same time as doing their regular work. Innovation teams can assist by providing support and guidance, just as many agencies have teams that provide advice on procurement.
Innovation values are principles that embody an organisation’s attitudes and beliefs about innovation. They can underpin an organisation’s approach to the innovation process and express what the organisation ‘feels’ towards innovation. Some organisations choose to formalise these values in written form.
Competitions and prizes can be an effective way to bring in different skills and perspectives to a particular innovation issue or problem as well as helping build interest and participation. They can assist innovation by rewarding and honouring the person or group that develops a superior innovation in response to a given challenge.
Innovation markets allow a range of different suppliers to bid to solve a problem.
While many innovative ideas will already be circulating within agencies, an explicit call for innovative ideas can shape and channel the creative energy being put forward and help organisations meet their strategic priorities for innovation.
An ideas management system (IMS) is a formal process by which ideas can be recorded, filtered and selected for implementation.
Innovation jams are focused online brainstorming sessions that can be scaled to include as many participants as needed.
Innovation Tournaments are an option to agencies for filtering ideas.
A mechanism of challenge refers to processes or mechanisms that allow issues or problems within an organisation to be identified and challenged. In an innovation context, it refers to being able to challenge processes or policies that may be stopping an innovative idea of merit from being investigated, tried or implemented.
Innovation flourishes in an environment of openness and collaboration. Strengthening engagement with citizens, clients and stakeholders can boost the innovative potential of the organisation substantially.
Innovation involves risk. An experimental space can allow for exploration of risks in a contained manner and by making explicit that the work being done is an experiment and so by definition might fail.
Procurement processes can be a very effective means to encourage innovation if they are designed and implemented with that aim in mind.
Agencies need to consider how they are going to best filter the ideas that they receive and select those to attempt.
It can be helpful to put an innovation into context and emphasise the uncertainty about what is going to work. What is the innovation trying to do – and if it does not succeed as might be hoped, what will that result tell us? Public policy can operate in a very uncertain environment, so an innovation can play a valuable role in reducing the existing uncertainty, and pointing the way to what does work.
A stage-gate system is a project management process by which a project must pass through certain approval gates before it can move on to the next stage. This can help limit risk and ensure that resources are not over-committed to an innovative project that may not succeed.
Pilots and trials can help test new ideas in a limited fashion and thereby reduce the risks and resources associated. However the results of a small trial or pilot may not represent the full difficulties that can be encountered when the initiative is implemented on a broader scale.
Integrating innovation into their operations can be difficult for organisations. Early wins can help build confidence, familiarity and interest in the innovation process and what it can deliver.
If an innovation is successful, an agency should examine how to sustain it and ensure it can be integrated and embedded into the organisation’s operations. Often, it will be necessary to work to sustain a new idea or way of working, and not assume that that it will continue of its own accord once it has been implemented.
Without measurement, it is hard to judge the success of an organisation’s innovation effort.
Evaluation is a key componenet of effective innovation. As with much of the work of the public sector, without evaluation it can be difficult to identify what worked, what could be improved, and what made the innovation succeed (or not).
Promotion of specific innovations can help build acceptance of innovation by those within the organisation and from external stakeholders. Demonstrating and explaining the value of innovation can help build appetite for further innovation.
Awards not only provide recognition for the innovation that has been done, but they can also provide valuable information that can inform future innovators.