Voices from Accenture Public Service


A recent study by Accenture found that 8 percent of government organizations around the world emerged as Innovation Leaders. What’s even more interesting is what the study revealed about how those agencies are succeeding at innovation.

One of our most important findings? Innovation Leaders aren’t doing it on their own. In fact, they’re more likely to work with multiple external partners to get ideas, knowledge, guidance or information that feeds into their innovation activities. They are, in effect, creating “innovation ecosystems.”

What’s more, compared to everyone else, Innovation Leaders are collaborating with some unexpected partners. That includes teaming up with nonprofits (41.7% of leaders vs. 25.4% of everyone else), collaborating with startups or digital companies (39.6% vs. 24.7%) and even using a crowdsourcing platform to generate ideas (39.6% vs. 25.6%).

The study also revealed that Innovation Leaders don’t set limitations when it comes to how they work with their partners. For example, they’re more likely to engage partners not only in helping shape innovation priorities (54.2% of leaders vs. 38.5% of everyone else) but also in managing the innovation process (43.8% vs. 26.7%). In addition, leaders are more likely to partner for oversight and governance (54.2% vs. 36.6%) and to fund innovation in conjunction with public partners (52.1% vs. 37.2%).

Interestingly, the leaders tend not to confine innovation to a single “Director of Innovation” or “Office of Innovation.” Instead, they diffuse it throughout the organization, weaving it into the agency’s unique fabric. They may still have a “point” organization, but the purpose is to orchestrate innovation—not to be the sole source of it.

For me, these findings point to an exciting conclusion: that innovation doesn’t need to be a big, heavy burden carried solely by an organization, or even by a single team within it. As the leaders remind us, innovation can and should be a group endeavor. And innovation partners are all around us—in government, in the private sector, in nonprofits. And leaders remind us that citizens themselves can be valuable collaborators.

One secret of success is this willingness to partner more—and to partner creatively—at every stage of Accenture’s Innovation Framework. What else can we learn from Government Innovation Leaders? That’s a question I’ll answer in my next blog. In the meantime, please share your thoughts on making innovation work in government. For additional insights on bringing the back office to the forefront of government innovation, visit us here, and follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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