Innovation can be exciting and inspiring. It can also be distracting – because in addition to innovating for the future, you also need to provide uninterrupted service to your constituents in the present. You can’t put your current services on pause while you implement new innovations, no matter how exciting they may be. Whatever your agency does, you’re torn between meeting current needs and anticipating future ones.
However, this isn’t an impossible challenge. There are plenty of approaches that can help you drive innovation while delivering on current operations responsibilities.
Some principles to consider:
- Dedicate resources to innovation. It’s important to identify the people in your organization who have a passion for innovation. They will figure out how to get things done. Sometimes if the person responsible for innovation is also the person responsible for running day-to-day operations, operations can take priority to the point where innovation never gains any ground. In this case, it may be better to separate the two responsibilities, and identify someone who can be a partner and drive advances while pulling in the operations team only when needed.
- Find time on a regular basis. You can’t make a change if you don’t put some time and effort into it, but sometimes it only takes a little time on a regular basis to get started. For example, set up some brief discussions about how to improve operations, but try to do it on a regular basis so that the team can anticipate and be thinking about new ideas ahead of time. This will engage the team and help them develop a rhythm for innovation.
- Make the most of the data you have. Collect the data that your business processes already produce as part of their normal operations. Use that data to improve your business processes and automate them where possible. This pays off not just in improved efficiencies, but by making more data available than ever before. Chances are you’re now figuring out how best to interpret this data. Great use of analytics can mean the difference between guessing what customers want, and knowing for sure what their behavior tells you they need.
At Xerox, we leverage our knowledge of commercial and public sector innovation to help transform the business of government. Stay tuned for more detail on what that means for your agency, in 2014 and beyond.