Book News: August 10th, 2010

By John Bessant, Tim Hughes and Sue Richards

This report from the Sunningdale Institute and prepared for the Cabinet Office, describes an approach to leading and nurturing innovation in the Public Sector.

There is growing recognition within government that public sector innovation is essential in a context which requires government to achieve more with less, while developing new solutions to old and new complex problems. But the authors argue that there is an under-developed appreciation of what public sector innovation might mean in practice and how it can best be supported.

The key purpose of this report is to develop a framework which provides a repertoire of types of innovation and relevant support models which effective strategic leaders can use to design innovation into their own organizations and begin to fill the gaps in innovation support.

A key finding of the report is the negative approach to motivation. Most of the systems which control work carry implicit messages that innovation is not recommended. All of the people interviewed maintained that the incentives against innovation are greater than those for it. The report proposes an innovation audit of systems such as HR and finance, commissioning and procurement, IT systems and estates and building management and other systemic controls, to assess where traditional practices might be adjusted to create more space for innovation.

BEYOND LIGHT BULBS AND PIPELINES is available from the National School.