3 Keys for Breakthrough Innovation in Government

Man walking up stairs.
Breakthrough innovation is often what governments most need.

Innovation in government is often incremental, with multiple smaller steps adding up to larger ones over time. Yet breakthrough innovation is highly possible in government; it just needs the right resources to happen. Here are the three steps to take to see a dramatic change in government innovation efforts.

Find The Right Regulatory Environment

Some areas of government need tight regulation. Nobody wants a lightly regulated water supply, or food safety chain. However, other areas are less regulated, and these offer more room for innovation. None of this means that tightly regulated services can’t see breakthrough innovation, but it will require more time and energy to navigate those waters. A pilot program in areas with fewer rules to follow will move faster.

The key is to think in terms of scale and how applicable this innovation may be. For example, if you’re looking to overhaul transparency rules and make government data more digestible to the public, start with an area that already regularly interacts with citizens and that is actively seeking ways to provide clarity. Once the value of your work becomes clear, others will be more easily able to pick it up.

Get Buy-In From Citizens And Constituents

Innovation in government has to be innovation for everyone, and it has to make sense for everyone. Each constituency with which a government works has its own needs and concerns, and those have to be balanced against each other. This makes buy-in particularly important.

The key to any buy-in is to ensure that every citizen feels heard. Often that’s really what they most want, to know their government understands their concerns. Approach community leaders and discuss what you’re considering in detail, asking for feedback. Then make sure systems are in place so that the feedback can continue. In this way, as you roll out your project, you can make adjustments and meet the needs where they arise.

Man looking through a binocular.
Seeing beyond barriers often matters most.

Get The Right Data

Part of why any breakthrough innovation spreads is that the benefits it brings are obvious. For instance, it’s easy to see why the smartphone is considered a breakthrough innovation. It’s clear every time we pull out a smartphone to check directions, order food, or check public transit times

However, the benefits of breakthrough innovation may not always be so clear, at least at first. Take, for example, fluoridation of water supplies. Even the concept wasn’t being considered until someone noticed certain municipalities had lower incidences of tooth decay and figured out it was due to naturally higher amounts of fluoride in the water. It took years of data collection and analysis to make fluoridation a commonplace service.

Before you launch any plan, choose what metrics are important both internally and externally. If you’re trying to reduce turnaround on paperwork, for example, you’ll want to measure not just the time it takes for a citizen to get their response, but the time of the various steps taken before that message goes out.

Breakthrough innovation matters to governments, to their constituencies, and to the future. To learn more about building breakthrough innovation in government, contact us today! 

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