Nous Group recently hosted the Public Sector Network’s Digital Government Roadshow across Australia; the following insights arose from the discussions.
Rapid shifts in citizen expectations and behaviour – such as increased use of the sharing economy and confidence in digital channels – are increasing pressure on government to improve service experiences. Consequently, all jurisdictions and levels have now accepted the need for digitally-enabled service innovation, including to improve efficiency and reduce cost.
Although real progress and momentum is occurring, the pace and scale of change, as well as constraints unique to government, still present significant challenges.
Challenges unique to government that make it hard to digitally innovate at the speed citizens and finance departments expect include:
In contemplating how to respond to these pressures and trends, government leaders are asking:
Organisations have until recently primarily pursued transformative digital innovation in their move to new digitally-enabled business models. However, the pursuit of ‘digital transformation’ has been replaced with the notion of ‘sustainable innovation’, or of the need to support small, incremental innovation over the longer term and within existing funding and policy constraints, through the creation of cultures in which new ideas flourish. In such a culture ideas with merit are trialled with minimal investment, and those with the potential to scale are identified early.
Indeed, organisational culture, capability and leadership are the most powerful barriers and enablers to sustaining digital innovation Public sector leaders should therefore consider the following design principles as they shape their organisations:
Certain leadership attributes need to be cultivated to enable digital innovation:
These traits must be accompanied by an understanding of broader technology trends, how they generate new digital possibilities within the business, and practical knowledge of the digital innovation process. Leaders must be educated on these topics so they can lead their organisation forward.
Digital innovation can generate new energy and excitement in public sector work. Leaders who can cultivate these skills and mindsets and maintain a sense of the bigger picture while taking small steps forward will be well-placed to embed and sustain digital innovation in their agencies over the longer term.
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