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4 Takeaways from the Louisville Summit on Government Performance & Innovation

The first-ever national Summit on Government Performance & Innovation in Louisville, KY brought together the best and brightest innovation teams and civic leaders from around the county to collaborate on the ways to drive continuous improvement and better serve customers throughout the public sector.

Leaders from Oakland to Boston covered a range of topics from their successes with improving the real life outcomes of their programs, to harnessing the power of big data, to fostering more productive public-private partnerships, to implementing lean methodologies in their organizations.

Of all of the great ideas that were shared, 4 stood out as key pieces of advice that teams could take back to their organizations and start implementing now:

1) There is momentum in the open data space, but questions remain

Steps to create open data portals are being taken all over the country, but many agencies still struggle with the “now what?” question of what happens once their data is living in the wild. Processes and strategies around data maintenance, deciding which measurements are valid and useful, and how to encourage adoption of your data by entrepreneurs and businesses are still being refined. Agencies are looking at big picture questions surrounding their open data, namely, how can data make lives better for more people?

2) Performance Measurement is moving away from counting daily activities and moving toward quantifying outcomes

More agencies are taking a new approach to measuring the performance of their departments and employees, shifting from a traditional measurement of tasks completed, to a more in-depth look at the real world outcomes of their programs as they relate to the needs of their customers.

3) Innovation Offices are the tips of the icebergs when it comes to operational and service improvements

Innovation teams stressed that it is not enough for one office to work toward the goal of improving performance and spurring innovation, nor can the process be a completely top-down approach. Innovation teams continuously work to get more people from across their organization involved in process improvement, idea generation and strategy development. Scott Render, of Louisville Metro Government’s website team, observed that innovation is not possible without an entire organization working to make it happen. “The one thing that stuck with me after the conference was the need to carve out time in your day to generate innovative ideas and ways forward.  It seems like city governments don’t just need an innovation office, they need innovation managers spread around the city to make sure innovation is always happening” Render noted.

4) Strategy can be iterative

Strategic goals are rarely fixed destinations within fast-moving organizations. The idea that you create one strategic document for your team that is unchanging for multiple years is becoming less possible with more disruptive technologies moving into the public sector space, forcing agencies to rethink their approaches to providing services and engaging with their audiences. Trying new approaches, measuring progress toward goals and learning from failure opens new doors and may present different challenges than agencies had anticipated, but having the flexibility to adjust and re-prioritize can make a huge difference when it comes to improving overall performance.

Civic leaders in attendance at the Performance & Innovation Summit learned that many of their peers had similar challenges around improving services and increasing public participation with their agencies.  Public sector teams gleaned invaluable information about the ways others are making strides in streamlining workflows, improving outcomes, and making lives better for the people they serve. The event energized and reactivated conversations around what it means to be innovative in government, and we’re excited to see the successes that public sector teams will achieve this year.

Looking for more on this event? Check out #govlive updates and photos from attendees here.