Making Innovation Work – The Civil Service Tell Us How!

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Getting staff to generate ideas for improvement is a key characteristic of innovative businesses. The best ones have processes to do this and here’s an example from an organisation not probably noted for its innovativeness – the Civil Service!

‘Tell Us How’ is a process from The Cabinet Office that invites Civil Servants to put forward ideas to improve performance.

What I particularly like is the ‘focus’ that the initiative creates. For example, when it was launched in October 2011, the emphasis was on identifying ways to make work easier, reducing bureaucracy and and overcoming ‘blockages’ to making this happen.

Since then, it has focused on taking this one step further. It is specifically focused on the ways management can realise potential. They are asking civil servants to put forward their suggestions on the practical things that could help them do their job better; with particular emphasis on things that enable them to:

  • Be innovative and creative – implementing new ideas and taking a positive approach to risk;
  • Achieve results – focussing on impact and outcomes, not just process and ticking boxes; and
  • Work together – working well with people at different grades, organisations and locations

Some key points to consider:

Our definition of innovation is ‘the successful exploitation of ideas’, and it needs processes to make this happen, so

  • What ‘processes’ does your business have to encourage your people to generate ideas for improvement?
  • How can you create ‘focus’ to generate ideas on the areas that count in your business?
  • What can you do to ensure that something happens with those ideas?

(Just to stress ‘My door is always open’ is NOT a process by the way!)

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