Gov innovation requires new way of thinking

Friday - 2/4/2011, 5:03pm EST

Tim McManus, vice president for Education and Outreach, Partnership for Public Service

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Better, faster, cheaper -- You're being asked to do more with less. And now more than ever, government innovation is playing a key role.

But how can you ensure innovation is part of your organization? The Partnership for Public Service and design firm IDEO have some ideas.

They've just completed their Government Innovation report that looks at the opportunities and barriers to government innovation.

Tim McManus, vice president for Education and Outreach at the Partnership for Public Service, said innovation requires leadership buy-in, a disciplined approach and "a shift in thinking."

"Too often what we think of as innovation is OK, We've developed a tool and therefore we're innovating," McManus said in an interview with the DorobekINSIDER.

Innovation tools are a good step forward; however, he added, "Government itself does not have that grassroots of innovation or that cult of innovation where ideas emerge anytime, anyplace."

McManus points to the Presidential SAVE Awards as an example. The honor goes to federal employees's ideas for cost-cutting. This year's winner suggested the Federal Register stop printing and mailing thousands of hard copies.

"You shouldn't need a president SAVE Award or an idea factory to generate that idea. Those types of ideas ought to be ingrained in everything that we do," McManus said.

McManus said innovation is not always something "untested and brand-new." Federal workers can apply something that worked in another scenario to their work.

So who is responsible for innovation at the federal workplace? McManus said he answers this question with two words: You are.

"Wherever you are in your agency, whatever you do, what are you doing to think about how to more effectively provide service and programs to the American people?" McManus said.

The DorobekINSIDER will be talking with the Partnership's co-writers of this report - IDEO - on Monday.