Thursday, May 17, 2012

Revelation: collaborate to innovate in the public sector

I've just had a revelation.

In reality, it is putting the two main parts of my life together in the most obvious combination possible.

I'm on a mission to find out how I can help make government work better.  What I'm occupying my time with is helping to foster collaborative communities to drive innovation.

Is it obvious yet?

I have been thinking about how to spin a government innovation blog out of this one - which is really just a random collection of profersonal thoughts.  I've really struggled to find accessible material on the sort of innovation I am interested in on how government works.  Innovation driven by a vision of radical transformation, that is.  There are some people doing really good work in the area (like TACSI of course, and bunch of design and innovation companies), but most of what gets shared is still very external to the hairy challenges of how to transform how government works to make these alternative approaches more mainstream - or at least less of an uphill battle.  And while I've found some good literature focusing on public administration, it tends to be more academic, less accessible, and without a vision for transformation.

So it seems like there is a gap that I can make a material contribution to.

But I asked myself this morning why.  What's the long-term rationale for doing this?  And it hit me - it's not about me providing information for all those individuals out there. It's about bringing people out of the woodwork and creating a community who are passionate about public sector transformation.

Which just happens to be exactly what I'm already contributing to with the Collaboratory Melbourne and Collaborate to Innovate in Adelaide.

Reading about the vision for the Collab was the piece of the puzzle that let me make the obvious connection.  The large-scale systemic transformation so many of us envision can't be done by any one individual or organisation alone.  This transformation will only emerge from networks of passionate individuals working together.

The greatest contribution I can make to transforming public administration is not with new theories (which we have), with passionate change projects (which are happening everywhere), or even with dazzling intra/entrepreneurial nous (which... anyway).

It's by networking the people doing these great things.

So that was my revelation.  Will it change the world or what?

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