Sharing and Stimulating Public Sector Innovation
Last week I had an interesting conversation with Ivo Gormley from ThinkPublic, an interesting group of young designers and others committed to making public services better for everyone. Ivo (an antropologist) by background told me about an interesting film he hopes to complete shortly on Government 2.0 and which I hope we will at some point feature on this site. He also talked about some of the work ThinkPublic have been doing in the health service to develop bottom-up approaches to business process re-engineering. So rather than some consultants working out the perfect process and imposing this on recalcitrant reality (and even more recalcitrant staff); staff and users are invited to record their experiences about which bits of the process work well and feel good and this is then used as the basis for staff and users to work together in small teams to devise improvements to the process.
This sounded fascinating to me and it would be great to understand the process better and get some sense of what comes out of it. And that's the rub. We were actually meeting to discuss Ivo's idea of creating a vehicle for short, monthly videos that would highlight public sector innovation and invite others to comment, rate and emulate. It's not clear where the best place for doing this is - should it be inside government, since it is about improving the public sector and showcasing interesting new ideas? If so, should it be across all sectors or does it make more sense to have different vehicles for different parts of the public sector, since more targeted sites will presumably be more compelling for the parts they are targeted on? Or is it better coming from outside government to give more freedom and avoid the risk of the exercise turning into an empty marketing exercise? And of course there are plenty of other questions. Should this be internal to the public sector or accessible to everyone? Would the point mainly be to flag up interesting initiative around the UK or would the discussions of those examples be almost as important as the examples themselves?
Obviously there is no one answer to any of these questions and Ivo's idea could be developed in all sorts of directions, but what struck me is that I am not aware of many examples of this kind of thing going on here or elsewhere. Surely there must be some good internal tools that bring public sector workers together round examples of public sector innovation and encourage them to comment on and rate them? Surely there must be some administrations that are looking at this kind of thing both for the value it creates but also for the PR/"brand" benefit? I am sure there must be some, and of course the purely internal tools will not be visible to outsiders, but I would be very interested to hear from people with any examples they may have. In the meantime good luck to Ivo as he takes his idea forward and hopefully one day I will be able to update you on where he got to!