What's happening in Public Sector Innovation
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This week we're talking about reflection. 

Things are changing fast. Our responses have had to be fast. So it's important to take a second and think about what's happened, what you've learnt, and what you'd do differently if/when you have to do it again. 

We'll eat humble pie to start.

Last week we started by making mention Professor Marcia Langton being awarded the Order of Australia.

Only we didn't.

We repeatedly mentioned a mysterious Professor Langston,* who stole the limelight and the credit for the great work Professor Langton has actually done. Thank you to Sharon and Travis who both caught the error we both missed and regret.

Sorry to Professor Langton AO.

We'll be triple checking name spellings and working on our touch typing. 

The most famous public servant going

Usually public servants want fame like goldfish want sandpits.**

And yet, duty and crisis have made Australia's Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy (and, to a lesser extent, Acting Secretary of the Department of Health Caroline Edwards) the most famous public servant around.

Professor Murphy has become a fixture of Australian media in recent months as he became the public face of public health advice, and restrictions, in response to COVID-19.

The Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) talk to Professor Murphy and Ms Edwards this week. The duo reflect on what they've learnt during the crisis, and in particular, what they want to continue doing now things are a little less frantic. 

They also tease out that Professor Murphy is an Italophile and budding opera singer, but failed to get him to demonstrate. While we understand the need to maintain a sense of seriousness and decorum while working for the public service...***

C'mon Professor, give us a song?

Ludicrous speed

Speaking of learning from COVID responses, our case study this week is a perfect example of how government can be adaptive, flexible and responsive to meet citizen needs. 

We learnt how Services Australia learnt to learn-people-up**** on a massive scale

And not just a couple of people, but around [Ray Warren***** voice] 15,000 staff from across Services Australia, the rest of the public service, and elsewhere. 

All to help process one million payments in about nine weeks (compared to the usual case load of about [Ray Warren voice again] 530,000 payments Services Australia deal with in a normal year). 

So how do you skill-up so many people, so quickly? How do you make your normal processes work at a scale that is anything but? 

You'll just have to read the case study to find out.

Just do it

Speaking of impressive efforts to help people with COVID-19, we jump across the pond to the USA where a 17 year old, Avi Schiffmann, has created the world's preeminent COVID-19 case tracker.

And it reads as a perfect case study for how to get a well designed, practical innovation up and running. 

Avi noticed a need, experimented and iterated, collaborated with people, and learnt from his lessons. Avi also has a great attitude to the tall poppy cutters in the comments. 

Responding to armchair experts, Avi said 'A lot of people have said, “Oh this is so easy to program, any experienced developer could have made this in a week or so.” I’m like, “If it’s so easy, why didn’t you do it?”

Right there with you Avi.

You're walking. Hear.

To finish up, here's a practical session on how to reflect on your work. 

Rose Mosse from Nesta has put together a guided meditation on reflection that you do while you walk. She has shared it as part of States of Change's Festival of Learning which has been running remotely, globally, throughout June (we've been sharing Australian-time-zone-friendly events below).


Innovation Month

Innovation Month is back and it's differenter than ever! This year we're like your nephew-who-has-never-received-a-letter-in-the-post and we're doing everything online!

The theme is ‘delivering differently’ and if you want to host an event check the deets and get in touch with us.

Festival wrap up

19 June - 10:00 PM AEST

If your local hasn't quite opened up just yet, stay in and catch up with the States of Change Learning Festival wrap up, at an almost-ok time of 10 PM Friday.

They're hosting an hour of reflections and wrap ups - they’ll have space for individual and group reflection for everyone who has festival’d with them.

Details here

Design and systems thinking


Join IPAA ACT and the Australian Taxation Office for an expert panel discussion via live stream, on addressing large scale and complex government challenges using design and systems thinking. Details and registration here.

Behavioural insights


Behavioural Insights (BI) - the understanding of how people actually think and behave - is emerging as a key tool for policy makers. The BI forum will share the results of recent trials that leverage the power of BI to help solve complex societal problems. Details and registration here.

*It was a typo, but a quick search reveals the top Professor Langston is the fictional Dr Raymond Langston from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, played by the excellent Laurence Fishburne.

While we enjoy the idea that perhaps a fictional universe is trying to invade ours via typographical errors in a public sector innovation newsletter, we must take responsibility for our mistakes (and not keep blaming them on metaversal invaders. It didn't work when we used washing up liquid in the dishwasher [IT SAYS 'DISHWASHING'!] it won't work here).

Also, as cool as Doctor Ray is, he's got nothing on Professor Marcia Langton AO. 

**Friend of the network, Duncan Young from the Australian Bureau of Statistics told us a great story (at the inaugural Australian Public Service F### Up Night) about what it was like to be the most famous public servant in the country with the somewhat-less-than-perfect 2016 Census...

He also tells a great story about how they learnt from that experience, and turned things around with the Australian Marriage Law Postal Survey. So great a story, that he and his team won a Public Sector Innovation Award for it! 

***We understand it. Never said we did it.


*****Rugby League commentator. Saying he has a distinctive delivery is like saying The Rock might have been to a gym. Courtney Act might own a couple of wigs. Joe Exotic might be a little extra. You get the drift.

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