Deloitte's Public sector disrupted full study 2012
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By Carmen Medina - February 10, 2012...
By Carmen Medina - February 10, 2012
The global public sector is under massive financial pressure. But that’s only one of its challenges. Citizens—the public sector’s customers—are also demanding better value for their taxes. And that includes dealing with government in new ways. With every sector of the modern economy and society changing in response to new technologies and social practices, citizens can’t help but wonder why so many government offerings remain shackled by the practices of yesterday.
These conditions indicate that the time is right to bring the principles and practices of disruptive innovation to the public sector. As a recently retired U.S. government senior executive, I am, of course, quite familiar with government’s ability to avoid change until it in fact becomes unavoidable. This persistent late adoption of new and more efficient technologies and processes costs government money, efficiencies, and, perhaps, most importantly, credibility. That’s why public sector executives everywhere need to become familiar with the concepts behind disruptive innovation and consider where in their organization they can plant the seeds of change.
The term “disruptive innovation” was popularized by Harvard Business professor Clayton Christensen when he observed some key factors in the toppling—or disruption—of large corporations. These include outside innovators who 1) start serving underserved customers or markets with 2) new technologies that initially provide a lesser product or service but 3) are less expensive than its competitors. Eventually, the disruptive innovation improves to the point where it captures most of the market share of the large corporation, which almost always is slow to respond to the disruption.
Government officials are not in a position to start new entities to challenge an existing government service. But they do have more ability than perhaps they realize to pursue disruptive innovation from within. I saw several examples of this in my career in the U.S. intelligence community. Unarmed drones, for example, began as a small research program in an obscure section of the U.S. Defense Department, but eventually, officials saw the potential that drones had to provide low cost, persistent surveillance. Today drones, once dismissed by many military professionals, are conducting missions that had been the purview of manned (and often very expensive) military aircraft.
Another disruptive innovation I experienced firsthand was the creation of Intellipedia. In this case, I was the government leader who gave the go-ahead to two individuals who believed that using the Wikipedia model to organize and disseminate intelligence information was a good idea. True to the principles of disruptive innovation, Intellipedia was aimed at an underserved customer—mid-level policy-makers and military in the field—was much less expensive than existing journalistic production processes, and was made possible by new software and technologies
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