In two senses, the work of innovation for public value and social impact is changing in Australia and around the world. What we expect public innovation to do and what we need it to achieve, and how that work should be done, are both changing.
And they are changing together while they are changing each other. The context is difficult and complex.
You only have to mention the words Trump and Brexit to be lost in an avalanche of foreboding as public leaders and the communities to whom they are accountable confront a tangle of low and declining trust, virulent strains of populism fed by fear and anxiety, and uncertainty about the value and impact of some of our most familiar institutions of public policy and collective action.
It is not a particularly easy time to be advancing the cause of great public work, which is exactly why it is the exactly the time to be doing it with renewed vigour and confidence.
For all that, it’s an exciting time too for the search for new practices for public value and social impact.
Despite some of the uncomfortable and unsettled conditions, there is real energy in the search for more effective ways to solve the big problems we face in common – managing our complex cities, rewiring large and complex health and social care systems, tackling climate change, searching for better ways to integrate the human and technology capabilities of the digital age and making our communities healthy and resilient.
The speed, intensity and sheer connectedness of these and many other complex, public challenges are giving rise to new methods and tools that can help to tackle them with purpose and skill.
The mindset and attitude too of public purpose leaders, thinkers and practitioners both inside government and in wider corporate and civic communities are shaping up to the new challenges. They are willing to experiment, to test new ideas and to accept that the value and impact for people and communities are the only the true measure of success.
At the end of October this year, in Brisbane, well over 500 public servants, people working in the public purpose sector, social entrepreneurs, academics, consultants and start-up social innovators will gather for the annual Business Improvement and Innovation in Government conference (BiiG 2019).
They will spend two days with a stellar array of thinkers, practitioners and leaders in public and social innovation exploring how to harness new tools and methods for innovation with a mix of ingenuity and social impact that push the boundaries for public value and changed lives.
These are just a few of their sessions lined up for 29 and 30 October. Amantha Imber from Inventium will take participants through the latest productivity research from psychology and neuroscience. Kit Collingwood, the young civic entrepreneur at the heart of the OneTeamGov movement based in London, and now spreading across the world, including Australia, will join from London.
The founders of Future Crunch, Tane Hunter and Angus Harvey, will unpack the “adaptablity quotient” as one of the 21st century’s most important skills for innovation and impact.
Russell Howcroft, PwC’s Chief Creative Officer, will explore how corporates are tackling new frontiers of social impact and social change. One of Australia’s leading social innovation researchers and practitioners, Ingrid Burkett from the Yunus Centre at Griffith University, will join the conversation, as will Queensland’s Chief Entrepreneur, Leanne Kemp.
Brenton Caffin, who leads Nesta’s States of Change innovation learning and capability program from out of London and now active in North and South America, Europe and Australia (including in Queensland), will explore new ways to learn and embed innovation skills and practices across public sector organisations and public innovation systems.
And Glyn Davis and Anne Tiernan, two of Australia’s most respected public policy analysts and leaders will unpack some of the implications for the changing work of innovation flowing from the Thodey Review of the Australia public service.
The conference comes at a time when we seem locked in a contest between hope and fear, between uncertainty about the value and potential of public action and investment and a growing realisation that without a reassertion of the importance of common and collective action, we won’t solve the big challenges we face and will stay stranded on the shores of disappointment and despair.
“The Changing Work of Innovation” promises to be a powerful and timely conversation with leaders and practitioners from public purpose work across Australia and around the world.
New thinking and new practice will emerge to position public institutions at the heart of a collective approach to solving big social and economic challenges and, in the process, to rebuild trust and confidence in government and public action.
There are still places available as registrations pass 500 and are climbing. Here’s how you can register.
The Mandarin is a proud media partner for the conference.