03.07.2017

Public sector Innovation Month kicks off


Public sector Innovation Month is upon us once again and this year’s calendar of events is so full, it began in June.

Now in its sixth year, the four-week celebration was officially launched this morning as usual by Glenys Beauchamp, secretary of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, who was joined by some of the finalists in this year’s Innovation Awards.

But Innovation Month actually kicked off last Wednesday with a lecture from Amanda Imber, billed as an “innovation psychologist, best-selling author, and founder of Australia’s leading innovation consultancy” bearing advice for a group of Canberra public servants that was apparently inspired by the reality TV show Survivor.

There’s plenty more events on the official list to come, most but not all of them in Canberra. This reflects the geographical spread of the Public Sector Innovation Network, a staff-led initiative run by staff of Beauchamp’s department that has begun spreading out across the country.

This Wednesday, there’s a screening of the film Design Disruptors followed by networking drinks, while an all-day forum on “being real” in leadership takes place in Perth on Friday.

Next week, Canberran public servants can tour various user-centred design and innovation labs or see some of the newest development in virtual reality.

Next Thursday, Melbournites can “increase their working knowledge of the language, concepts, and processes of web development and digital tech” through an intensive short course called “Tech for Non Tech” delivered by Code for Australia. In week three, Melbourne will also play host to a conference called Disrupt the Public Sector on July 19.

Geelong’s turn comes on Friday July 21 with “an intimate and informal celebration of innovative practices across a range of public sector organisations” that costs nothing to attend.

One of the last events on the calendar, GovHack, takes place in several locations simultaneously over the weekend of July 28-30 and gives a digital wizards an opportunity to demonstrate what they can do with data provided by government.

The purpose of Innovation Month is for public servants to either share and celebrate their own examples of innovation, or discuss how it can be encouraged through new ways of working in the public sector.

The 2017 theme is “Making it Happen” — which reflects Commonwealth public servants trying to make the Prime Minister’s vision of his government as an “innovation exemplar” into reality, according to PSIN spokesman Rob Thomas, who wrote in an April blog post:

“The number of Innovation Month events, and the involvement of the PSIN in bringing them to life, is actually a measure of the strength of innovation in the public sector. The attendance at these events is an indication of not only the value of the PSIN and Innovation Month, but of a public service that is brave and passionately inspired to create better user solutions, where innovation and thinking differently are simply the default.

“Agencies continue to see Innovation Month as an opportunity to either publicly showcase their achievements, or focus on the internal discussion to build their innovation culture through workshop events or a strategy launches.

“I’m glad to say that PSIN members are asking about the details of Innovation Month earlier each year, showing a growing excitement to participate and engage with colleagues across the PSIN.

“The best examples of cross-departmental (and even cross-government) groups working towards their professional enrichment are the State Chapters and the State Coordinators. These groups consist of colleagues across federal agencies and also state and local governments working together to develop professional networks in their areas.”

The easiest way to join the PSIN is to sign up to its Yammer group.