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Innovation distinguishes between the leader and follower
Steve Jobs,

Towards Innovation

Paul Conneely

Article written by: Paul Conneely, Head of Strategy and Development
Monday 06th October 2014

Local government is full of bright ideas, but a gap is often evident between these ideas and implementation. Having a creative idea is only part of the process, and managers need to recognise that to deliver better outcomes innovation should be considered a process.

Towards Innovation

At a popular and animated workgroup on the 1st October over 30 participants heard from four speakers and began to defines some of the key actions local public services need to take to progress innovation.

Participants highlighted a number of steps critical to successful innovation, including:

  • Ensuring that the strategic direction and priorities of the organisation are clear to everyone
  • Identifying the key areas where the organisation are looking for major performance gains that innovation offers – these are most obviously those areas with the biggest gaps between desired and actual performance. A key step in the innovation processes that Steria follow is to “define our needs” and take the time to articulate them across the organisation
  • For example, the City of York is prioritising Adult Social Care as demographic trends present the biggest risk to the well-being of residents and the financial sustainability of local service providers
  • Engaging staff in the process of generating ideas and implementing changes. The research highlighted the value of face-to-face communication with senior managers, and the need to bring employees on the journey. “Too much communication is being done through e-mail”
  • Engaging local people in dialogue to help identify both strategic priorities and ideas for creative solutions. Part of the challenge is to engage a representative sample of people with an interest in the problem. Managers from the City of York have recently been spending time on the local buses seeking to engage young people and parents to hear their views.
  • Pursue innovation in a structured fashion, recognising that each step may require a different set of attitudes, mind-sets and roles. A range of different people may need to be involved at different stages, and that the people who generate the initial idea may not be the most appropriate people for follow-though. “We need completer-finishers at least as much as we need ideas people”

Local authorities also identified the range of assets available to them that can be brought to bear, not least the opportunity to leverage the collective insights and energy of local people through co-creation and co-production to develop new approaches to achieving outcomes. “The community of our largest workforce”. Furthermore, seeking to define the organisations priorities “from the outside-in” can help the organisation to articulate and align their strategy around local needs

However, perhaps the single strongest recommendation that emerged from the group regarding driving innovation was the need for greater and better engagement with the workforce – which most critically must include opportunities for face-to-face two-way dialogue between the workforce and senior managers.

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Chair, Clinical Commissioning Group
ITW Networks, 15 Highbury Place, London, N5 1QP
Tel: 020 7704 7630