Innovation Forums in the Government – A Great Trend
Innovation was at the top of the list when President Obama presented his second-term management agenda on innovation in early July.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) was leading the way with a great Innovation Forum on July 16th. It featured three components: working groups, innovation labs, and partnership best practices.
We loved it! Open discussion on challenges leads to sharing ideas, and many other Government agencies at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should consider learning from ICE’s ground-breaking way of interacting with industy to forge new ideas and partnerships.
What do small businesses do for innovative practices in government, you ask? Lots, and here’s why:
- Social capital—a “communal property involving civic engagement, associational membership, high trust, reliability, and reciprocity in social networks,” according to an article on small firms and social behavior—is widely reputed as a major advantage to small businesses and are generally the driving force behind its ability to innovate. At Arc Aspicio, our dedication to mission-critical homeland security projects has not stifled the company’s growth as some might expect. Instead, it has expanded its social reach and sustained trust across many DHS components. This network is a centerpiece of innovation practices in information sharing, face-to-face interaction with our top executives on a daily basis, and civic engagement on the ground-level
- Ability to Adapt—as the Government moved towards private enterprise as a means to meet its public demand in the latter half of the 20th century, it would seem that this would also mean that private companies – not strapped to tax dollars as a source of funding – would allow Government to keep pace with the rapid technological advancements. Yet, large companies operate much in the same way Government does: they have stakeholders to answer to, and bearing too much risk is not an option when it comes to meeting short-term quarterly goals. With a small business, there is an insatiable need to develop, evolve, and adapt. Small businesses turn toward novel practices to do just that. Often it is the small business that is most-suited to bear the risk of an “outside of the box” approach to government
- Culture—whereas large firms boast a top-down, authoritative hierarchy, small businesses find that a collaborative culture with blurred lines of authority is the foundation for insight. According to an article from www.innovationexcellence.com, small businesses innovate because they ask the right questions from everyone involved: clients, competitors, and within the company. Questions like, where can we make an impact? How can I make this better? And what sets me apart? are staple of aspiring small businesses.
With the rapid progression of technology amid stringent austerity measures, innovative solutions have never been more implored, and small businesses remain the most-equipped to bring them to the table.
We look forward to innovating with ICE and many other agencies in the future.