Innovation. Just a matter of being a bit sociable? (above the radar)

Have you tried to converse with the guys at Innovation.govspace about Ideas for the Public sector?

I thought this time we we're going to have a chance of changing the culture, via a quiet conversation (above the radar). But no. I tried sending this one in response to Alex's first reply. They've put the spam filter on my email address. I don't get angry about Canberrian culture any more; it is what it is. But I'd appreciate an opinion on my reply, just so I'd know whether it's me being unreasonable. Read on .................................................

" Alex, let's keep it above the radar, so we might encourage a community of both insiders & outsiders.

What I'm suggesting is quite easy to see. You have the old brochureware.E.g. here and here.
And you have the new interactive versions. Here and here
One design is institutional centric; one is Group (of practice/interest) centric.

If we take this through to the principle of the 'service design' criteria for each, we can compare:
  Institutional centric.i.e "deliver a service" (you won't link. The process start at Register Now!)
  User centric i.e "share a service"

This nice little ghost town/buried treasure you've set up here, and some others, are buried because  there is no relationship between the two. You've also made the "grevious sin" of not linking between the ghost towns. i.e. "External Links" (on the right column) should be your blog roll. The same for other govspace COPs.

So the best one can find, as a directory to the new interactive world, is this page. Which is enough to give one an impression that there are a few years to go before the aps joins the modern world.

That's enough for now. It's good to see that you've got this far over the past 2 years, especially as I understand how gov initiatives get bogged down in a past century's managerialsm. It's no different in the Canberra bubble than the Brussels one. Just in Europe, with all the PS layoffs, there are new media industries being innovated as unemployed ex-insiders get together. I hope it doesn't come to that in Oz."


OK, That's it. To put "the service design" comments in context, you'd have to be aware of this event.

So tell me PLEASE. How do you get these guys in to be sociable?

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Comment by simonfj on May 7, 2012 at 11:56am

Thanks Nat,

I think we - both people in a .gov or .edu org, and their common constituents - all see it. As you say "... for collaboration to occur between (Inter-institutional) groups, we need something common to bring us together, something of a glue to keep us joined together, with the right critical mass anything can happen."

I have the same discussion with an Aussie who works on the same coal face in the EC. He's done a nice overview for the EC institutional employees (although the video's got glitches so you'll have to keep hitting play.

It's really nice to see this happening on Oz under the banner of Public Service Design. Yu may have seen the latest on the Centre of Excellence for PSD which has been set up.

In terms of my interests - a (more) common online learning environment for inter-institutional public groups - you can see things coalescing, although, in Oz, we still have the old habit of keeping the 'internal' discussions separate from the 'external' ones. It really is hard, as you'd know, to overcome the .gov (patrician) habits instituted by old edu institutions.

But, by your description of the new open education method(s), I don't think it will take too long to get them instituted around the govspace. It just good to see a little outreach happening in co-designing the environment. (regardless of the poor deisgn of the comment tool).

Just please keep in mind that their a lots of other insiders & outsiders who are working at redesigning a public service which can be participatory rather than leaving it to reps. Regardless, as you say, "people learn by doing". All we can do is be as inclusive as possible and allow ourselves a bit of time to broaden the scope of institutional problems so we can reduce their duplications.

That's my 2 centavos for the pot. Os deseo lo mejor del mundo.

Comment by Nat Maras on May 4, 2012 at 12:42am

Hi Simonfj,

Apologies for not writing back sooner to your post - been flat out lately. Thanks for the encouragement! I'd like to add some updates to the bit about CoPs cross border. There is definitely a cultural lethargy to unite and share between organisations - even within them as well! People seem busy, preoccupied - burdened.

I like the use of this media where you can feel 'intouch' with others even though you may not have physically met them. This I hope with the internal SharePoint project might create some good networks and groups. Unfortunately our network blocks access to alot of social media sites so for external discussions we are limited to GovDex which I find I forget to go back and visit!

Lately I've tried to connect with DHS - hoping to get one of their regarded designers experienced in setting up design-cafes and CoPs to spend some time with us and help us get started on the right foot. But by far the most rewarding and working relationship has been an informal and organic relationship with DIISR - and not using the website that gobbles comments - old fashion telephone convo's and get togethers. We've progressed and learned alot and the connection has been good.

My feeling is that for collaboration to occur between groups, perhaps we need something common to bring us together, something of a glue to keep us joined together and you never know, with the right critical mass anything can happen.

On another note we are taking the group think to a new level. I am hosting a one day training course followed by 10 tutorials to teach business analysis and design to graduates and APS staff. The course will provide an overview of a new pattern-rule method and a complex case study with no right or wrong answers. Rather than be bored senseless listening to theory and yet more powerpoint slides, they get 5 tools to use, supported by our best cohort of analyst/designers, the lads get direct mentoring, activities to break the issue, reflection and a chance to redefine the problem using a type of design science research approach.

The tutes gives them an opportunity to apply same tools to different problems, or new tools on the same problem. My idea is that if we get this right we can create an environment where people can learn by doing, and agencies can solve problems through training people how to think through it - all in the one session! Brilliant! This is like the service jam but a bit more specific - ie, rather than a secret topic you begin with the problem challenge as a question or hypothesis to pursue. What I found a little problematic with a design thinking approach is not enough framing of the problem and convergent - critical thinking to provide partipants with a deep understanding of what it is that they are trying to solve.

My two cents - or five now...the pennies don't exist anymore...

Comment by simonfj on March 30, 2012 at 12:07pm

God this is a worry. Here's my reply to another conversation with Nat on the same domain.(Well, it would be if the innovation guys could stop their comment spammer eating any comment with 2 links on.

Thanks Nat,
The main thing, for me. was the fact that you focus on the "groups". That's a discussion we've been having on the research networks for a while now.

FYI, This is the center of my "geek" universe.  So you'd imagine that we are looking at this movement - from institutional-centric teaching to inter-institutional learning - from a European perspective (and beyond).  

The challenge is always encouraging these groups to get together & learn across the usual borders. You can see it by perusing the govspace directory. All the COPs lined up, divided by agency. And it's even harder in OZ because the culture is to still think in "a service delivery", not in terms of "shared services". i.e agencies design & "deliver" a service to citizens rather than including them in Communities which design services.

I'm sure you're on the right track with the "micro jam" approach. And I'm with you on the "group think". (So long as you understand that some folks are a bit wary of replacing an old one with a new one. )

So good on you for giving it a go. I really do like your reference to "third forces". These reconciliations between "up and down" and "in(side) and out(side)" are, as you say, the point of where innovation happens. So you might understand why i keep all my discussions to talking about the "change in media".
So let's try and keep as much of this above the radar, so lurkers can pipe in an tell us where we are right or wrong, or find a compromise between the two. All the best.
P.S. Like the

Comment by Susan Myburgh on March 30, 2012 at 10:26am

Sounds like a reasonable request, and (for government) a warm response.  Now to do all the background reading so that I can comment more fulsomely.

Comment by simonfj on March 30, 2012 at 10:03am

Thanks Alex,

So you can imagine how it was for me. Having his post and that other one getting caught in the machine. The policy's good. But why wouldn't you do like every other forum does;? "Thank you for your comment. It's awaiting moderation". I've never been thanked by anyone in the APS for a suggestion, so it would make a welcome approach.

Comment by Alex Roberts on March 29, 2012 at 1:27pm

Simon - apologies for the delay in responding, but the entire team was out at a meeting this morning. I'm sorry that your comment was caught by the filter, but as per our moderation policy "Offensive language is automatically checked by the system and comments with many links in them may be automatically held for moderation (links being a major part of most comment spam). Comments being held in the system are manually checked by a moderator to determine if the comment should be published, edited or deleted". I can assure you it was nothing personal.

FYI, the Innovation Toolkit site has been developed for a specific community, mainly those within the public sector who need to apply innovation to deliver better outcomes - we do link to a number of external sites, both APS and other, throughout the Toolkit, but generally in relation to specific areas of information. We do agree that it would be useful to link to the broader Govspace directory, and will add that to our external links - thanks for the suggestion.

As we also note on our Suggest Improvements page the Innovation Toolkit site is a work in progress and we're keen to hear suggestions (though of course we may not be able to act on all suggestions).

Thanks for your interest in the site, it is great to see.

Alex Roberts (from the Department of Industry, Innovation, Science, Research and Tertiary Education)

Comment by simonfj on March 29, 2012 at 9:37am

Just to be fair to Alex and the guys. I just realized that at 9am the ICT guys probably turn the spam filter off. So it's not that they're unsociable. It's just that the service designers don't talk to their network people. Hey! What's new?

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