Accelerating Innovation in Local Government: Three perspectives


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Compares the perspectives of chief executives, frontline employees, and local political leaders on what helps to accelerate innovation in local government. Based on research with English local councils.

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Accelerating Innovation in Local Government: Three perspectives

  1. 1. Accelerating Innovation in Local Government: Three Perspectives Joan Munro
  2. 2. Innovation definition used Innovations are changes to services, products, organisational arrangements or democratic approaches that are both: ›  New to the council [organisation] ›  Deliver additional value for service users & citizens [customers & other stakeholders] The innovation continuum goes from small scale improvements to radical disruptive, game changing, breakthrough changes
  3. 3. Local government examples Vertical pier Contact centres Annual magic festival Residents’ personal computer links New ways of avoiding potholesTele- care Council- owned private company Report rubbish on mobile Inter- agency working Shared services Pay on mobile Community run libraries Community volunteers mentoring unemployed Publish data for open use Elected Youth Council Older peoples’ mutual support ‘circles’ ‘Tell Us Once’ Portable traffic lights Social enterprises Private sector partnerships Dementia friendly cafes App for touristsLocal forums Becoming a bank Child- friendly city Co-operative Council
  4. 4. Research objectives Aims ›  Identify what local government leaders might do to accelerate innovation council-wide ›  Disseminate and promote this learning to local councils ›  Further the research evidence on leadership actions that help to achieve innovation in public services
  5. 5. Research ›  Interviews with 18 chief executives ›  Three discussion groups of chief executives ›  Development and testing of Local Councils’ Innovation Framework with councils ›  19 employee focus groups in six councils ›  Discussion with LGA Improvement & Innovation Board ›  Politicians’ Masterclass on innovation ›  Interviews with ten leading politicians (so far) ›  Planning research with middle managers
  6. 6. Local Councils’ Innovation Framework
  7. 7. CITIZEN & SERVICE USER FOCUS ›  Politicians’ and chief execs’ declared central focus However…. ›  Little in-depth research on service users’ lives & concerns ›  Residents & service users rarely involved in developing innovations ›  Few taking action to unlock community capacity for innovation
  8. 8. POLITICAL VISION & PRIORITIES All agree need to: ›  Look ahead & anticipate issues ›  Have clear, attainable, long term ambitions & objectives ›  Take calculated, essential risks However…. ›  Few clear about the priority areas for future innovations
  9. 9. LEADERSHIP All agree need for: ›  Bold, united, determined top team, focused on achieving innovations ›  Leaders to communicate priorities & reasons for innovation convincingly ›  Leaders to listen to others ›  Persistence However employees stress… ›  Communication should be done personally ›  Middle & frontline managers need to pro-actively encourage innovation
  10. 10. STRATEGIC APPROACH TO INNOVATION All agree: ›  Capacity/time to implement innovations is a major issue Few: ›  Set aside specific resources for innovation ›  Recognise the need for training & expertise in innovation processes ›  Protect innovation processes from organisational norms ›  Right kind of technology expertise
  11. 11. ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE All agree: ›  Fresh ideas should be encouraged ›  Intelligent failures should be learnt from However… ›  Employees say there is little time for reflection or creative thinking ›  Few recognise the potential benefits of learning from other sectors or abroad
  12. 12. CROSS BOUNDARY WORKING ›  All agree need to work across internal silos & with other councils ›  Politicians & chief execs major focus on external partnership However … ›  Employees feel need more practical actions to build cross-council links ›  Few private sector contracts appear to be delivering innovations
  13. 13. EMPLOYEES All agree need: ›  Motivated, committed employees ›  To encourage employees to contribute ideas However employees say… ›  They need to be genuinely involved in innovation processes from the start ›  Little or poor feedback on their ideas
  14. 14. DELIVERY ›  Most innovative councils have corporate programme & project management approach However… ›  The biggest, most expensive, services appear to be achieving less innovations ›  Few systematically learning from successes & failures
  15. 15. Politicians set the strategic context for innovation Senior & middle managers lead for innovation Frontline managers & employees are engaged in key innovations Effective innovation delivery mechanisms A Strategic Approach to Innovation in Councils
  16. 16. Issues for council leaders Deciding: ›  How and where innovation should sit in the organisation’s overall strategy ›  Whether to use the word ‘innovation’ ›  When and where the conditions are right for more major, radical innovations
  17. 17. Resources ›  Local Councils’ Innovation Framework: ›  Framework Self-Assessment tool: ›  Summary of latest findings: ›  Presentations on innovation: ©Accelerating Innovation in Local Government Research Project