What's happening in Public Sector Innovation
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On Monday, Professor Marcia Langston was made an Officer of the Order of Australia, for her distinguished service to tertiary education, and as an advocate for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. 

In September last year, Professor Langston AO* delivered the 2019 AIATSIS** Wentworth Lecture at the National Press Club.

Pre-echoing the talk we shared last week, Professor Langston shared ways in which ancient Indigenous Australian knowledge and practices could help with problems we're facing now. 

In celebration of Professor Langston's achievements and their recent recognition, we'd like to share her speech again. As we grapple with social change and global crises that have very local effects, it's important to look everywhere for our solutions. 

Including the thoughts and voices of as diverse a group as possible isn't just a nice idea, it gets us better policies, programs, and makes those policies and programs more effective.

We're in a period of massive upheaval and change. This week we look at how we can use that momentum, and include the perspectives of many different people as we do. 

The view from up here...

You're in the cinema (remember them?) and the ads are just starting. 

A local builder reckons they can knock your nice house down and replace it with a square house. A kebab*** shop tells you, well after you bought your tickets, that you could've bought the tickets and a kebab for the same price. (Thanks, kebab shop.)

And then the first trailer starts. A woman floats through the airlock of a spacecraft. We see her check instruments, eat a floating kebab, and check days off on a space-calendar.**** 

Then she straps into her rocket and returns to a world she can barely recognise.

Except it's not a movie, it's the real life experience of astronaut Jessica Meir, who returned to Earth in late April after nearly seven months on the International Space Station. She spoke to the MIT Technology Review's Radio Coronoa podcast this week.

It's important to get different perspectives. Jessica's viewpoint on what has changed, how much it's changed, and what it was like to be away from it, gives us a unique view on our current crisis.

Change = energy = momentum

Last week we talked to the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) about how they were able to take the need for immediate changes and use them to create useful new programs to help public servants think about their work. 

IPAA CEO, Drew Baker, and Program Director, Sunny Huston told us how their core mission stayed the same, but how they could achieve that mission had to change massively. 

The pandemic meant that business-as-usual wasn't possible, and the changes needed had to happen a lot quicker than change normally would. As Drew puts it - 'COVID-19 has hit the accelerator. We’re moving at a much quicker pace than we normally do.’

But given that need for change, it's not enough for the boss to just tell everyone what to do. To pull it off, they've needed a trusted team, with the right skills, who can tap into a wider network.

Harnessing this energy, these people, and the reputation that built up around it, is a core part of building what's called 'innovation capital' and, if you want to do that, you should read the case study

More ethics, more innovation

At the start we mentioned the idea that more diverse and inclusive views get you better policies and programs. It turns out there's a similar relationship between ethical leadership and innovation in the public sector. 

The Australia New Zealand School of Government (ANZSOG) have released a paper investigating this relationship, and found that if an organisation has an ethical culture, and ethical leadership, it is more likely to make new and different ideas happen

This lines up with similar research about high performing teams and psychological safety

If you believe you can take a risk and not be punished for it, you'll take the risk. If you believe in your organisation, you'll take more.

And those risks, those new ideas, will help you to help more people more. 

Senate pet-stimates

We're all starting to get familiar with people's furry familiars interrupting their Skype/Zoom/whichever-your-work-has-access-to calls. 

But these are usually between colleagues. We've yet to have a dog run into Senate Estimates, or another committee. 

So, in the interest of sharing skills and lifting the capability of public servants everywhere, we are positively delighted to share this masterclass in How to Deal With Your Cat Invading Your Home Office While You're Giving Evidence to a House of Lords Select Committee

Have a lovely week. Meow.


Innovation Month

Innovation Month is back this July and it’ll be totally online for the first time ever - very experimental!

This year’s theme is ‘delivering differently’, reflecting the changing approaches and practices of the public sector.

Want to host an event? Check the deets and get in touch with  us - the Public Sector Innovation Network.

Cold hard truths

16 June - 8:00 PM AEST

Speaking of inclusion and ethics, States of Change are hosting a discussion on examining things we don't tend to examine, such as our privilege.

Who’s voices are we hearing and who is out in the cold? Who’s in the room when we ‘imagine’ new futures and how are we making the future just and equitable? Are we careful not to colonise our futures and ourselves?

Details here

*AO is the post-nominal for 'Officer of the Order of Australia' (we figure it's AO instead of OOA because that way the 'Australia' is at the front and the three letter version isn't as snappy). Professor Langston has already been awarded an AM (Member of the Order of Australia). 

Technically you don't need to use the post-nominals after the first time you introduce the person, but we figure the recognition is worth a second round. 

**Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, which, by the way, is an excellent resource for learning about the diverse history, cultures and heritage of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australia.

***For our international readers, generally speaking, when Australians refer to a kebab they're talking about felafels or shaved meat in a flatbread, the name coming from the Turkish 'doner kebab' variety.

Lebanese shawarma is very similar and tends to also be called a 'kebab' here.

All of which is very confusing because 'kebab' generally, internationally, refers to 'meat or other thing on a stick', which, technically is true, but it's kind of like Australian's deciding that we'd call emus 'birds' and just be a little confused whenever someone referred to a bird other than an emu. 

****Kinda like a normal calendar, except it has little tabs to keep the pages from floating away and it has a huge section for all the sunrises/sunsets that ISS astronauts/cosmonauts/taikonauts experience daily. 

It's terribly impractical and no one would want anything like it in space, like astronaut ice cream.

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