The innovators journey | GovLab | Deloitte Netherlands


The innovators journey

Survivor Guide for successful Public Sector Innovation

Welcome hero! You may not know it, but you are a hero! Or at least to us. Why?! The fact that you came to this website to have a look at our survivor guide means you have the ambition to innovate public sector. And we know from own experience, that this isn’t an easy task. But don’t let this discourage you, this survivor guide is there to help you!

GovLab exists to enable government to solve wicked social problems by providing the necessary mindset, skillset and toolkit to innovate and co-create. For over five years we are helping public sector organisations to innovate. During those years we helped them to develop new services in the field of unemployment, poverty, sexual harassment and citizen engagement. Although each time when you see the impact of a new service it has always been worth all the effort, the process to get there was often challenging and harsh.

Public sector organisations are not set up for innovation. They are set up to execute one or more given tasks as efficient and effective as possible. To do so they organised themselves along bureaucratic lines that are trained to execute tasks in a standardized way to guarantee equal outcomes and to minimize the amount of errors. Innovation is about exploring if things can be done differently. It is about experimentation, failure and uncertainty. This makes innovation completely opposite to the core values of public sector organisations.

Successfully innovating public sector demands cutting across silos, the guts to take risk, embracing failure and tearing down old believes and ways of working. In short; innovating public sector means fighting it standing culture.This all is not meant to discourage you. On the contrary. Government needs people like you who have a passion for innovation! Besides that, although we learned at GovLab that innovating public sector is challenging, we also experienced it is possible. Better even, we believe that innovation within public sector could be flourishing. But to do so there needs to be a structured approach to innovation. It sounds ironic, but also innovation needs to be set up as a discipline with its own governance, processes and tools.

This survivor guide is meant to give you some guidance during your own innovation journey. Central to the guide is the roadmap which describes the path to successful public sector innovation. For each step of the road this survivor guide provides you with:

  • Insights: Leading thoughtware within the field of innovation. This to provide you with a solid basis for your journey. 
  • Tools: Hands on tools which you can directly use while fighting dark lords, trolls or other demons. To make sure that you don’t freeze they are accompanied by practical exercises that directly get you going.
  • Inspiration: Learn from others and steal with pride. Interviews with other public sector innovators, descriptions of inspiring projects and lists with ‘must reads / listen to.

In the coming year it is our goal to publish each month a new step of the road. Below you can already download the first two chapters and if you want you can sign up to get an alert each time we publish a new step.

Let us be clear, this survivor guide will not give you all the answers you need. We believe that is impossible. Each journey is different and has its own path. That said, we believe that our lessons are valuable and could be of help during your journey. As innovation is all about learning we would also love to hear your experiences. So please get in touch and share your stories with us! For now we wish you all the best and know we are there if you need a hand…;-)  

Follow the journey


Chapter 1 | Create awareness: Innovation is a necessity

The world is fundamentally changing with massive shifts in digital technology reshaping the business world. Public sector organizations have to come up with new solutions. Solutions which are co-created together with citizens and businesses, which are user-centric and gives citizens and businesses the opportunity to take their responsibility and actively take part in solving societies most wicked problems. This all demands public sector organizations to redefine itself and innovate at an institutional level.

Read the chapter


Chapter 2 | Get understanding

What is innovation? It seems to be the new ‘Lean’. Or ‘Agile’. Everybody is busy with innovation. Even in the Public Sector. But are we really? What do we mean when we talk about innovation? When you search around and read quotes, you see that are a lot of definitions of innovation. At GovLab we believe that there are no right or wrong ones. The important thing is that you choose one and make it smart. In this chapter we will provide you with insights, tools and exercises on the (many) definitions of innovation.

Read the chapter

Chapter 3 | Set destination

Welcome to chapter 3 of our survivor guide for public sector innovation! Now you have sponsorship from your top leadership for your innovation journey (step 1) and determined what innovation means to you and your organisation (step 2), it’s time to set your destination! In this chapter we zoom in on the importance of having an innovation strategy and it’s key characteristics.

Read the chapter

Chapter 4 | Gather your fellowship

How do you build fellowship around your strategy and vision? In the chapter gather your fellowship we will dive in to co-creation in ecosystems, and the importance of diverse teams. 

Sign up to receive updates.

Chapter 5 | Organise for innovation

How do you organise for innovation? It is for instance important to set a governance structure and gather ownership at the top. In this chapter we will provide some tools and exercises to develop this. 

Sign up to receive updates

Chapter 6 | Thing big. Smart small. Accelerate quickly.

With Innovation by Design we guide you through sprint based working, human centered design and validated learning, to be able to start small and scale quickly.

Sign up to receive updates. 

Chapter 7 | Build a culture of innovation

Once the previous steps are taking, it is important to embed innovation in your organisation's culture. By showing creative leaderships and share learnings and failures, this culture can be build. 

Sign up to receive updates. 

About GovLab

GovLab, Deloitte’s public sector innovator. Major innovations are changing society drastically. Also the government will have to reinvent itself. GovLab brings together citizens, public & private parties and offers solutions based on technological and social innovations to key challenges in the field of healthcare, work & income, education and economics. 

GovLab is active around the globe, bringing international experience to a local level. Drawing on the hands-on experiences of international public and private organisations, we can work with you to set your strategy, and to design, build and launch succesfull innovations. Read more about GovLab or get in touch with Daniel Charite to boost innovation at your organisation.  

Did you find this useful?