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How does a government employee become an innovator?

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Over the past years, innovation in the government sector has become an issue of importance in government circles.
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Over the past years, innovation in the government sector has become an issue of importance in government circles. There are many tools, methods, reports, frameworks and methodologies that have been developed to support innovation in the government sector. Specifically, Take a look at the unique tools, methodologies and frameworks developed by entities such as NESTA, The Centre for Public Impact, and What Works Cities. Some efforts also touched on identifying the concept of government entrepreneurship and ways to create the appropriate conditions for the success of entrepreneurs employed within these entities.

If we accept the OECD assumption that innovation in the government sector is only an individual human activity, We have the following questions: Who is the proponent of this positive change? Why are they taking a new approach to advancing the common good? How does the drive for innovation manifest within the government employee? What are the internal motivations that inspire government employees to change from within their entities?

Try to answer those questions, I began identifying the emotions of government employees that arouse a desire for sustained positive change after holding talks with hundreds of government innovators since 2006 and hosting a network of Edmonton City Change Ambassadors since 2016. I then rearranged these patterns and made them the basis for a framework aimed at understanding how the drive to innovation is formed in government employees – what we might call the "personal development of government innovators." During this framework of personal development, individuals go through five main stages that have their own emotional roots: The stage of regression, the stage of stagnation, the stage of dispersion, the stage of revolution, and the stage of multi-horizon. Let us now turn to each of them separately.

Rollback phase

Government employees at this stage have feelings that can be summarized in the following statement: "Let's tear down everything we have now and get things back to normal." This is because they are eager to go back to the past and see it as better than the current situation. The dominant emotions of individuals at this stage include passion, enthusiasm, anger and fear. The circumstances that push individuals to enter this situation are:

  • Change of leadership (either at the level of government departments or within some teams)
  • Fear of losing powers or feeling lost
  • Reducing the entity's expenses or the likelihood of this happening
  • Exposure to trauma in the workplace (often bullying)
  • Conflicts between individuals or teams

This stage (in which the employee wishes to return to an ideal past) results in repercussions on society with instability, Community members will feel that the changes brought about by employees in this situation are directed against them and not in their favor or carried out for them.

Stalemate phase

Government employees in this case believe that "everything is fine, There is nothing to change," he said, a normal and common condition in the government sector. The dominant emotions of individuals at this stage include inaction, apathy, pessimism, doubt or resignation to the status quo. The circumstances that push individuals to enter this situation are:

  • Take advantage of the status quo in one way or another
  • Working in the government sector for a long time
  • Lack of interaction with the job
  • Trying to make a change from within the entity and confronting it with rejection or opposition

We conclude from here that it is not possible to achieve any change or innovation at this stage. Its impact on society is that the status quo remains, whether positive or negative. Things may remain the same within the region, However, it cannot avoid changes caused by external factors in the long term. According to the situation data, A number of societal effects may be reflected on individuals, But they will be the product of external factors that have nothing to do with the efforts of civil servants at a standstill.

Dispersion phase

The feelings of government employees in this case are summarized by the following slogan: "Let's fix the current situation", They are dominated by feelings of restlessness, annoyance and frustration. Employees in this situation feel a challenge that can be met and recognize the potential for "quick wins." The circumstances that push individuals to enter this situation are:

  • Directly confronting a "workflow" challenge
  • Get information about a "workflow" challenge

The changes and innovations resulting from this stage usually have a very small impact on society because they address the symptoms of challenges, not their causes.

Revolutionary stage

Civil servants enter a situation described as "Let's change the existing system." The dominant emotions of individuals at this stage include passion, enthusiasm, anger and fear. The circumstances that push individuals to enter this situation are:

  • The failure of their efforts in the event of dispersion or facing rejection or resistance
  • Have a personal interest in achieving the desired change or innovation
  • Exposure to trauma in the workplace (such as discrimination or bullying)
  • Over-reactivity and commitment to the job

The changes and innovations brought about by civil servants in the revolutionary situation will have a lasting impact on society, That's because employees at this stage understand the reasons for the challenges they are trying to face. It is no secret that the employee in the revolutionary phase is dominated by the same emotions associated with the state of regression. This is due to the similarity of the stage of decline and the revolutionary stage, This increases the importance of the two stages when studying them. So we will devote an article later to this issue.

Multi-horizon stage

Employees at this stage raise the slogan: "Let's adapt and deal with what's to come." The dominant emotions at this stage include love, joy and curiosity. The circumstances that push employees to enter into this situation are:

  • Embodying the principles of adaptive leadership and the principles of systems leadership
  • Dealing earlier with matters of authority or matters of privilege
  • Be self-aware, intuitive and spiritual
  • The firm belief that they are agents of change
  • Adopting the principles of continuous learning and acquiring new habits instead of traditional ones
  • Think and look at things holistically

The innovations and changes resulting from this situation have a real impact that makes a paradigm shift in the thinking of society.

Points to note

The personal development stages of government innovators may seem firm but are not. That's why there are points to know when applying this framework in your business.

1. Evolution is a personal process

Individuals differ in the interpretation of the framework of evolution, Their understanding of it will also change over time. This means that the definition of revolutionary practices varies from person to person depending on his appetite for risk or risk. In the context of change from within the government, We cannot underestimate any step from telling leaders the facts to making a change to the data model. Positive change within governments can only be achieved through the adoption of various interpretations of the concept of revolutionary practices.

2. Context is an essential element

The context around the employee shapes his understanding of the actions dictated by the stages we talked about. Similarly, An employee surrounded by an environment that supports open dialogues and testing new ideas or the other who works in an inflexible organizational environment views revolutionary practices in a completely different way.

3. Relativity of the framework of personal development

The framework of personal development is not a comprehensive and decisive measure. The employee does not move between states of development in one direction. An individual may start at any point on this scale and head to another point (up or down). Several situations within this scale may also apply to a person. This is according to the issue he is experiencing and his personal view of it. For example, A climate change enthusiast may think he's in the revolutionary phase while trying to implement a waste reduction program. The same person may see him as at a standstill while implementing changes in the reporting process in the entities in which he works (while the person who pushed for a change in the reporting process in the entity may see him as in the revolutionary situation, which would cause disagreements between employees).

4. The framework of evolution is changeable over time

The context of the development framework can be further understood after looking at the Teal Paradigm model in which employees evolve across different situations within multiple stages. I also suggest reading the article written by John Naisbet in this regard, In addition to Frederick Lalux's 2016 book "Reinventing Organisations" to identify who adopt the Teal model.

This article was written by Mickey Stryker Talbot, An entrepreneur employed in the Canadian municipality of Edmonton and one of the most prominent writers and contributors to the Apolitical platform.

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