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Civil Service

The Innovation Challenge: A judge's view

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I am honoured to serve as judge for the Civil Service Innovation Challenge. During my 30 plus years working for large global corporations, I appreciate the crucial role civil servants play in supporting industry and commerce.

However, the private sector has generally been quicker than government to adapt new technologies and innovative business models. This is a serious gap, which is quickly being filled by inspired individuals and groups finding the means to create better services, and leveraging new technologies.

Web 2.0 companies are springing up to build new products and services that advantage of growing computing capacity and near universal connectivity.

Leading technology companies have found ways to disrupt traditional businesses, creating entirely new methods of satisfying customer needs.  Government ought to do the same.  In fact, the Civil Service boasts some advantages over commercial enterprises, e.g. a broader constituency.

Like government, established companies often struggle to overcome legacy systems and patterns of thought.  As Peter Drucker – a seminal 20th century management thinker - pointed out:

Of course innovation is risky. But defending yesterday is far more risky than creating tomorrow.

With this in mind, you may find it useful to emulate businesses when brainstorming and vetting innovative service propositions.  A few fundamental questions to consider would include:

  • Who is the target audience?
  • What is the problem (aka ‘pain point’) we are seeking to address?
  • What is the incumbent (legacy) means of dealing with this problem?
  • How is our proposed solution superior, e.g. service quality, reduced cost, delivery efficiency, etc.?
  • What resources will be needed to implement our solution?
  • What are the downside risks and potentially adverse consequences?
  • How will we measure results and assess success? What are the key metrics to monitor?

I hope these help you with your entries, and I'm looking forward to seeing what ideas you come up with.

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