The Metrics of Public Sector Innovation

Public SectorLast month, leaders in public sector innovation gathered to discuss ways of crowdsourcing new solutions to longstanding problems at IdeaScale’s Open Nation DC.

In advance of the event, we asked registrants to select the topics that they were most interested in learning about and remarkably the topic selected most often was “innovation metrics and ROI.” For that reason, we asked our speakers to share any insights and best practices that they had developed in their innovation programs around metrics and measuring ROI and some interesting themes emerged.

Beware Vanity Metrics. What are vanity metrics? Data that shows activity, but doesn’t show movement on the actual end goal: real results. In an IdeaScale community, that might be a high degree of page views or new ideas, but no movement on the real problem (whether it’s policy making or workplace improvements). Make sure you’re reporting on what really matters.

Progress on Objectives. Every organization has different objectives and different departments even have different objectives internally, but that’s where the real success of a program is measured. Are you making new policies? Are you improving the lives of citizens? Are you retaining more employees? What are you trying to move the needle on? Measure that.

Measure Outreach. When it comes to crowdsourcing, you have to know what it is that gets people into an ideation community and inspires them. In the United Way’s presentation, they talked about a campaign that they designed specifically to re-engage people over the course of months, bring them back, and get them to share more thoughts. But how did they know it was working? They measured every part of that campaign.

Tell a Story with the Data. This was a point that was made over and over and it’s perhaps even more true when we’re talking about nonprofit or government work. We’re not talking about zeros and ones. We’re talking about how people report their position in an emergency, we’re talking about delivering renewed services in communities that need it, we’re talking about changing the lives of those who are trying to get work or live with disabilities. How do the numbers illustrate that truth?

To learn more about public sector innovation, you can view the presentation recordings and download the slide decks on our Open Nation DC resources page.

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