Before Training Public Servants, You Must Educate Yourself

Beth Simone Noveck and Jason Williams-Bellamy

Opinion: A well-timed survey may be the difference between failure or success

This is the second in a series by the Governance Lab on training 21st century public sector leaders. This article was also posted on Apolitical.

Asking the right questions

Many governments are investing in creating new training programs in an effort to change working practices.

  • Design thinking,
  • Digital thinking,
  • Data and evidence use,
  • Curiosity and flexibility, and
  • New narratives and cooperation

Surveying digital trends

The findings in Chile paved the way for more expansive empirical research into public sector innovation skills. Following suit, the Canada Digital Serviceput out a skills survey at the end of 2018, asking public servants, “What digital training do you need?”

Saying and doing are different things

In connection with six innovation competencies, we asked people to distinguish between: 1) their ability to use a particular method, or 2) explain it to others.

Mapping knowledge gaps

The other benefit of surveying employees about what they know — and what they want to know — is that it enables us to determine how knowledge is spread across the organisation.

  • Human-centred design
  • Data analytical thinking
  • Open innovation
  • Behavioural insights
  • Lean-agile methods
  • Impact evaluation methods
  • Evidence synthesis methods
  • Systems thinking

Taking the pulse on innovation

To be sure, it is hard to get people to respond to surveys.

The Governance Lab improving people’s lives by changing how we govern. http://www.thegovlab.org @thegovlab @nyutandon #opendata #peopleledinnovation #datacollab