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The ‘YOU’ in Public Service Innovation 4th Public Sector Innovation conference Restoring Citizens’ dignity: Innovative Responses to Public Service delivery Challenges South Africa Thuli Radebe Presentation outline 1. Who is ‘you’? 2. Innovation and intelligence 3. Individual Genius &Collective Intelligence 4. Individual innovativeness & innovators 5. Discouraging innovators 6. Enabling innovators 7. Organisational innovativeness 8. Leaders and innovation 9. Enabling organisational innovation 10. Concluding 1. Who is ‘you’? The individual ( boss, worker, supervisor, leader, secretary) – all levels The team (organisation) We all feature as one and/or all of the above at some point Important stakeholder in the space of innovation “An innovator is a person who makes changes; a person who introduces new methods or procedures; an innovator is a creative person” 2. Innovation and intelligence A link between innovation and intelligence: Individual Genius (IG) and Collective Intelligence (CI) IG – individual innovativeness CI – organisational/ team innovativeness They capture the ‘YOU’ in innovation A starting/ entry point for this discussion which I use to present your place and role in public sector innovation 3. Individual Genius &Collective Intelligence In the innovation space is a tension between Individual Genius (IG)and Collective Intelligence (CI) Some favour one over the other. I favour both! Importantly, how do we create the right conditions for CI and IG to work in synergy and to complement each other? 4. Individual innovativeness: Exploring the Eureka concept Eureka – I have found it! • The sudden, blinding flash of inspiration that leads to a new product, service or organisation. • An exclamation of discovery linked to Archimedes (when he discovered the means of determining the proportion of base metal in King Hiero’s golden crown) Eureka moment leading to Eureka thought Individual innovativeness – Eureka moment Eureka Moments do not happen in multiple minds all at once - there’s usually someone who blurts out a new creative/innovative idea that catalyzes a whole new conversation (a new creative idea) The habit of innovation at an individual level (personal brilliance) is the differentiator. It is true that individuals possessing a habit of innovation, coming together, will make an organization more innovative. Eureka in public service a reality: examples The Health profession has embraced the Eureka moment - coming up with practical solutions to everyday problems on the frontline: • People not seeking financial gain or personal recognition • It is the realisation that a specific problem needs solving or a system improving that has inspired many nurses & other health professionals to come up with innovative ideas Eureka examples - Lynne Phillippo, a nurse from Norfolk, invented ‘The Danrik Wedge’ – a pelvic cushion that makes patients more comfortable when they have a cervical smear and provides the practitioner with a better angle to carry out procedure safely; - In South Africa Naumi Sithole (Physiotherapist) – using a coke bottle as a spacer for asthmatic children when she ran out and would have been forced to send them home gasping for air Understanding individual innovators Are these people after personal glory? Yes, that’s part of it (recognition always appreciated): - But importantly they also want to be the person who thought of a solution that changed everybody’s lives for the better. - They want to be able to walk around and see the results of that idea. Both of these incentives are crucial for bringing forth innovation 5. Discouraging innovators People new to an organisation often have a lot of that passion, but it can be drained away When an individual can’t find anyone to listen and appreciate their idea (eureka thought): - their Individual Genius goes on its lonely course until either they find the right reception or - it dies Most times people are ridiculed for sharing creative thoughts (given special discouraging names e.g. pelvic) Discouraging innovators – leadership failure Leadership is the key condition for sustaining innovation If the leadership is not right creative individuals get buried by a bureaucracy - who asked you? - Uyaphapha (too forward)! - Have you forgotten your place? - What has that got to do with you? Discouraging innovators – leadership failure Anecdotes: “In some of my employment situations, I’ve been in meetings where an idea I’ve been evangelizing for months finally emerges from the lips of one of my superiors, and it’s stated as if it just came to them out of the blue” – that is a failure of leadership. “It’s a well-known strategy to subliminally get a boss to think something is his or her own idea in order to make sure it happens, but if that strategy is the rule rather than the exception, it’s a strong indicator of an unhealthy place for ideas and innovation (not to mention people).” 6. Enabling environment for individual innovativeness In order for individuals to care enough to have their Eureka thoughts, they have to be in a fertile, receptive environment that encourages that mindset How can your innovation program support the development and enhancement of the natural innovators? One method of boosting an organisation’s creativity, is boosting the creativity of the individuals within the organisation - get it right with nurturing individuals’ creativity and innovation Individual innovators – IP protection Individuals’ innovations need to be protected as their inventions but in government as government inventions Private sector companies & individuals grab these for their own exploitation TIA – protects all government financed innovations 7. Organisational (Team) innovativeness - Collaboration It is important to bear in mind the difference between individual innovation and organisational innovation Arguments favouring Orgnisational innovativeness: Very rarely does a single individual's innovation drive a large organisation’s innovation - Rather it is the collaboration of numerous individuals with varying backgrounds who devise and implement ideas. Organisational/Team innovativeness In arguing for organisational/team innovativeness: • Innovation is typically characterized as incremental (improving existing products, process or services) or radical (creating entirely new products, services, methodologies, processes e.g. GEMS) • One brilliant individual is insufficient for creating radical innovations • The primary driver for radical innovations is groups of people sharing their ideas, insight, and experiments - more effective than the application of one brilliant individual • Juxtaposing the two fair? Organisational/Team innovativeness Innovation derives its value from communal context - most innovations that we encounter daily were, in one way or another, vetted, refined and amplified by collaboration An example: In Wolverhampton a team of community nurses came up with Hoo-kOn, a portable lightweight drip stand that allows bags of intravenous drugs or fluids and monitoring equipment to be securely attached so that nurses can safely administer treatment to patients at home or accident scenes (fits in boot) 8. Leaders and innovativeness Is the climate open to new ideas? As many people have mentioned, are 'bosses' open to new ideas? Do they support the initiative or ridicule the result? It is also the duty of leaders must still define where new ideas are needed - officials need a sense of what is missing or what could be improved Leadership stifling innovativeness Some reinforce (wittingly or unwittingly) cultural norms that alienate the eccentric-but-talented and give comfort to the bland-but-mediocre Some preach about thinking outside the box, while perpetuating a hierarchical corporate system, one of the most primitive boxes around Lack of supporting processes and tools will prevent creative ideas turning into tangible results 9. Enabling environment for organisational innovativeness A minimum requirement for organizations to become truly innovative is to let their innovators connect and network across boundaries and hierarchies – The problem is that hierarchies, rules and employee procedures often stand in the way of innovative people to turn organizations into innovative organizations. – Fortunately, there are now many social networking tools and new web technologies (blogs, wikis, tagging, etc.) that are very useful for creating virtual networks of people which bypass the traditional boundaries and hierarchies - creating a new parallel digital workplace Enabling environment for organisational innovativeness - people all over the world are now able to collaborate almost instantaneously in rapid conversation, discussion and idea-vetting? – wisdom of crowds - Some managers exchange their current/old employees for new and younger employees” – 10%, average age is 35, hoping that some individuals amongst the new breed will be innovative - But without the correct environment even these new inventive individuals won’t get effective Enabling environment for organisational innovativeness - Some organisations are also recruiting staff with very different perspectives to spice up their knowledge mix, not hiring “people like us, who think like us” - Some organisations hire management from completely different industries (bring in completely different perspectives rather than tried and tested solutions only) - diversity - Every company is full of creative thinkers, but if management does not promote innovation, ensuring an environment of trust and genuineness about implementing innovative ideas, then the innovative efforts in the organisation will die 10. Concluding Each one of us is an innovator Believe that you have something to offer in the space of innovation Look around your environment, identify things you have been doing in the same way for many years (can do in your sleep) Don’t be too comfortable with sameness Siyabonga Thank you
"THULI RADEBE INNOVATION CONFERENCE 2010"