Governments’ Innovation Barrier

It seems true that what we think about defines what we are capable of.

I often hear that athletes, musicians, orators, and many others must see themselves accomplishing their goals in order to perform at their best.

What is it that government employees think about, and how does that thinking shape their capabilities?

In my observations, government employees can’t help but think a lot about short cycles, many of which seem to be distractions from organizational performance: political processing, short executive tenures, acquisition processes, and “solution” hype cycles. The mix of short cycles seems to discourage fresh thinking.

To be innovative, one needs an opportunity to re-think and re-design.

If the short cycles in government keep employees focused on merely managing their overlaying chaos, then when would they have an opportunity to be innovative?

Not only is the nature of government structure a mix of short cycles, but it seems that executive leaders reinforce these in their attempts at achieving notable results. The popular concepts for getting work done include hard-grinds, one-offs, big-spends, tiger-teams, and off-sites. Again, these seem to be short-cycle efforts that require tremendous effort, but not much room for innovation.

Innovation is enabled, culturally. There is a norm for thinking through the possibility of enhancements.

If many short cycles interfere with innovation, then maybe it is time to normalize a long cycle dedicated to re-thinking and re-design. A long cycle could concentrate on how the organization causes outcomes across time and space. The effort of looking at patterns in a long cycle many help ready the minds of government employees to be innovative.

What are other ways of fostering innovation in environments where many short cycles distract or derail re-thinking?

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