Engaged Innovation: Speaking to Those You Serve

Filed Under Innovation

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Harvey Wade

by
March 26, 2014

The British public sector is in the midst of its biggest crisis to-date. With a huge deficit looming over its head, alongside a desperate need to transform internal processes, infrastructure, and public services for the better. But with any challenge comes opportunity, in this case a chance to re-think and re-structure in order to create a sustainable foundation for the public services of the future.

The Key to Survival

Like private businesses, the sector is having to innovate in order to survive. Organisations, such as Gloucester City Council, made the decision to outsource the delivery of revenues, benefits, and welfare rights services to a private organisation, in order to streamline their processes, raise service levels, and cut costs. It’s now saving more than £200,000 per year, and sharing the services with its sister authority, Forest of Dean District Council, to reach more people and be well-prepared for the future.

According to a recent report by the Institute for Public Policy Research, innovation from the grassroots is key to buy-in and success. It’s a no-brainer, really — you’re far more likely to produce the right solution to a problem if you ask the people facing the problem what they think. And as my colleague Nikki wrote, a problem shared is a problem halved.

Various public sector organisations in the US have already started to implement this crowdsourcing innovation methodology with fantastic success.  Maryland’s Harford County, which cares for a community of close to 250,000 residents, were seeking a way to bring its residents into the governmental process. The idea was to create greater transparency while simultaneously fostering a community of open innovation. The county used Mindjet’s SpigitEngage innovation platform to gather over 100 ideas from residents about how to create economic opportunity, improve efficiency in government, look after the environment, and save money. They were able to implement a number of successful new programmes, which resulted in a 50% reduction in paper usage, cutting their paper costs in half, and dramatically reducing their electricity bills. You can read more here.

A Global Platform

Similarly, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) started using our technology last summer to collaborate with, and gather ideas from, its partners. This included refugees themselves and those on the front-line, to solve some of the most pressing challenges in refugee protection and assistance worldwide. The organisation launched a special UNHCR Ideas initiative to do so, and has since successfully developed ways to improve access to UNHCR information and services for refugees living in urban areas.

The moral of both of these stories? When your business is people, there is truly no one better to stay engaged with when solving problems, or developing new assets and services. We’re on the verge of being able to announce some similarly exciting projects we’re working on with public sector organisations in the UK, and we expect equally impressive, and innovative, results. I look forward to sharing more news with you soon!

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