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Thoughts on what makes an innovator - in the public sector, private sector, & the organization


Some thoughts in response to a question on GovLoop--
1. Organizational Innovator
  • Always an outlier
  • Can see the whole, the future, the vision - very big picture thinker
  • Future-focused
  • Technology-oriented
  • Put things together that don't seem to connect
  • Idealistic not practical
  • Optimistic
  • Humanitarian on a grand scale but can be rude one on one
  • Not power or money hungry but definitely want to influence others
  • Not diplomatic - it's either innovative (good) or not innovative (bad)
  • Tend to overvalue your contribution and be a poor listener
  • Not swayed by "feeling" arguments - "we can be more efficient but it will hurt people's feelings"
2. Government Innovator
  • You understand and value government for what it is and your agency for what it is uniquely
  • Try to make things better within the subjective logic that is every unique agency system.
  • Achieve innovation that may not be much by private sector standards but that is significant in an agency setting
  • You don't attack or undermine the system because it's slow, bloated or inefficient - you focus only on making things better incrementally
  • You work in a team with other motivated people - you do not try to do it on your own
  • Examples: popularizing alternative dispute resolution or the concept of 24/7 employee staff care; getting people to use collaboration technology not hoard information
3. Private Sector Innovator
  • Focus is on making money
  • Creates a market for a new way of doing things that involves buying a new kind of product (e.g. Kindle when people are used to paper books) or brand (e.g. Lexus when people already buy cars)
  • Or - achieves significant operational efficiencies to cut costs (e.g. robotic surgery or virtual admin assistants; microtasking)

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