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Level Five Open Government Innovation

Harnessing Collective Intelligence to transform Canada's innovation pipeline

Canada is scoring a 'D for Innovation', and falling behind other nations in their innovation capacities.

They also have perceived issues around the bite of their Open Government watchdogs, and while these may seem like unrelated issues, I'd suggest they stem from the same root issue. Ie. An overly involved, authoritarian culture of government will inhibit both.

Therefore it highlights the paradoxical nature of the challenge, and why citizens and businesses need to step up their demands in these areas, and participate directly in the solution. While the government isn't as accountable to the public as they should be, then it's no surprise their efforts to improve innovation and subsequent economic growth aren't performing as well as they should.

Government organization resistant to public input and scrutiny is by its nature resistant to change and innovation.

Open Government Innovation
The key to unlocking this paradox is that Canadian government themselves have proposed the solution, their own Open Government resolution, which can be harnessed for this purpose. It highlights the fundamental value and transformation that it can bring:

"Open government is linked to access to information legislation. However, it extends the concepts inherent in these laws to promote an entirely new way of viewing the role of government and the participation of citizens in it."

This provides an excellent overview of the organizational benefits of Open Government, and how it might be applied to address this systemic issue through a more collaborative approach with citizens:

  • Improves communication channels
  • Promotes citizen engagement
  • Instills trust in government
  • Fosters economic opportunities and
  • Ultimately results in more open and responsive democratic government

Wiki Government
The role of Open Government in addressing national innovation challenges is most keenly demonstrated by its flagship example, and it demonstrates why it is such a powerful model for citizens to demand of their governments as it encompasses their organizational performance too, as well as their transparency.

Beth Noveck, the Open Government leader for the USA, designed and led the 'Peer to Patent' project, radically transforming how effectively the core process for innovation itself, the patent application, is conducted.

This harnesses "Collective Intelligence", the models utilized by Web 2.0 sites like Wikipedia, and applies it to unlock the gridlock that had built up due to the traditional, closed approach. Beth calls this 'Wiki Government' and has authored a book of the same name to explain further.

Level 5
This improvement can also be quantified in terms of organizational maturity, becoming increasingly proficient and moving up from levels 1 through 5.

In another post, about the general business process performance benefits that Cloud computing can enable, I reference Michael Hammer's maturity model, the pinnacle of which is a Level 5 organization and that can be applied to this type of government re-engineering too.

In the Leadership section it describes how the start of the journey is Level 1, where:

"the senior executive team has started shifting from a top-down, hierarchical style to an open, collaborative style."

and in essence Beth's Peer to Patent project then defines the Level 5 conclusion to this journey. She embraced the same cultural and systemic model change, and transformed how the agency works and performs.

Beth describes how the agency was building up a huge backlog of patent applications due to a 'closed' approach where only staff from the USPTO could review, contribute and decide upon applications, and by moving the workflow online to a Web 2.0 environment they have been able to "open up" the workflow to a distributed community of experts from across many different organisations, and apply collective efforts to increase both quality and speed.

All of this approach is what we're seeking to repeat for Canada too, by using a wiki and other Cloud applications for the business plan site we're looking to build the same type of model, addressing the gridlock issues with the same design philosophy.

http://CanadaCloud.biz

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