The implementation of innovation in any organization is complex, but is there any hope for government organizations? Huge attention is focused on the Obama administration's ability to provide “timely and in-depth content ” and a "transparent and connected democracy" - but can they do it? Even in techno-focused for-profit organizations, the policy and procedure infrastructure can create barriers that almost seem insurmountable. Now add governmental accountability to the mix...
NPR's Nell Greenfieldboyce writes about a video produced as part of a NASA Johnson Space Center project to to enhance innovation and open-mindedness. It's home grown, and worth all 10 minutes. The story isn't a happy one and closes with a contrast to how innovation might be handled at Google (minute 9:00). The video has been shown in other NASA retreats and is generating extensive comments, and I hope, opportunities for change.
Excellent -- Web 2.0 tools being used to support change. NASA is on the leading edge in many Web 2.0 approaches. A friend and colleague of mine, Dr. Lynne Cooper (Knowledge Strategist) at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, offers Mars and Me as one of her favorite blogs (this is a personal blog created by Scott Maxwell, one of the Mars Rover drivers). I've also enjoyed other project blogs (Haughton Field Test) and tweets (MarsPhoenix) provided by the various NASA groups.
Web 2.0 is also used to support the internal workings of many NASA projects. We (Mark Allan, Tony Korolis, and I) recently published a paper describing current and possible future wiki uses within the Intelligent Robotics Group at NASA Ames. These examples (and others, e.g., Army's PlatoonLeader.com & CompanyCommander.com) suggest that governmental organizations can innovate with Web 2.0 technologies.
But what about the legal barriers that the President's administration must deal with? Will they be allowed to do so? Wired Magazine documents some of these barriers in a recent article.
Is this a case of small bites being the way to go? Change management is often best when "small bites" rather than vast changes are attempted. Perhaps small changes within government will eventually lead to large ones. The idea of a CTO position within the administration may also mean that larger technically-focused strategic change is being considered. Let's hope so.
Thanks to Ethan Levy for sharing the NPR article and video with our Organizational Design class.