Innovation…in Government?

February 15, 2010

Last week at the Opening Session Retreat, Larry Keeley, Minnesota-born innovation guru now residing in Chicago, posed the following question to members of the State Legislature:

“Is the pace of the changes that you in state government are proposing, debating and achieving faster or slower than the pace of change in the lives of your citizens?”

It got the attention of the audience, and that of the Strib’s Lori Studevant who wrote a followup column that hit home to me.

Studevant painted a picture of the Minnesota Legislature as one stuck with jurisdictions of the 19th century, structures of the mid-20th century, funding formulas from the 70s and tax fights of the 1980s and then posed the relevant question for me…”Can a Legislature in the 21st Century still be timely, relevant, creative – and most desirable of all, effective?”

Over the last six months, I have posed similar questions about national government and media, business and their customers in general, event designers and producers and their clients specifically, and have wondered about organizations to which I belong and their membership bases. So I eagerly scanned the article for more insight.

Keeley points out that one gains greater “innovation competence” by remaking one’s decision-making process. Decisions should be based on a disciplined analysis of problems and opportunities – a “exercise quite different from partisan positioning, orchestrated public hearings and theatrical floor debates”

Know your strengths…discern what’s ahead in those areas…build incentives into financing systems…enhance the customer experience…encourage new processes…junk old structures when they get in the way of results…don’t make decisions based on anecdotes or arguments of a few vocal interests…research and use the experience of those that have succeeded.

These are familiar arguments that pertain not only to government but to all that we do. Think about it.

Put another way, let me ask you – is the pace of the changes we in the meetings and event world are proposing, debating and achieving faster or slower than the pace of change in our client lives and in the lives of their target audience?

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