Headlines: October 12th, 2009

Public services are wasting the valuable resource of people in central and local organizations despite the crucial need to innovate to reduce costs. This is the key finding from the Publicnet poll which also revealed that the majority of organizations are looking at their systems and processes to make sure they are fit for innovation.

The survey revealed that 57 per cent of respondents believed that there is little motivation of staff to innovate and little reward for those who do come up with innovative ideas. A similar view was also expressed about the time or resources given to staff to develop innovations. 59 per cent believed that little was provided.

There is a general recognition across public services that innovation is essential to bring greater efficiency with 62 per cent saying that there is a great deal of openness to new ideas and to criticism in their ogranisation. While civil servants and council officers shared this majority view, only 49 per cent of council members believed this to be true of their council.

Council members also differed from the majority view on how clearly the need for innovation had been explained. Overall, 60 per cent said that the need had been well explained, but only 28 per cent of council members took this view.

The survey also asked if there was evidence that people were holding back on innovative ideas in anticipation of a change of administration. 82 percent believed that there was little or no evidence of this happening.

The survey has shown that although much has changed in public services in the last decade, particularly with the recognition of the need for transformational leadership, there has been little impact on the culture. The way to meet the challenge of budget cuts is seen as through structural solutions and system changes. Involving people in innovative thinking and harnessing their energy is low on the agenda.