As I thought about the subject of these two words thrown together, I thought about different analogies I could use in order to put a fun visual to the idea. One thought that came to mind was imagining that Innovation and Government were high school kids in the hierarchy of popularity. Government might very well be intimidated by Innovation, who seems worldly and magnetic. While Government may be very caring and intelligent with a lot to say, it doesn’t quite know how to communicate efficiently. From Government’s point of view, Innovation appears to be an elusive, more glamorous creature that everyone wants to be like.
Flashing back to reality: government may still have a reputation for being behind when it comes to innovation and technology, but innovation needn’t be intimidating. Innovation often comes in small waves at a time. It begins with a slight change, an observation that eventually turns into action.
The three things that are most essential to achievement are common sense, hard work and stick-to-it-iv-ness….. -Thomas Edison
Innovation comes from many a series of trial and error. Triumph and defeat. Triumph and defeat. Defeat. And more defeat. Pay attention to how your customer is using your “product” per se. Are they using it the way you would expect? Are they doing, or searching for, something that you already offer, but that your organization doesn’t clearly communicate?
The company IDEO understood this idea when they were asked to design a new cap for the Crest Neat Squeeze toothpaste tube. The goal was to design a cap that reduced the leftover toothpaste gunk. They came up with a plan to make a cap that was a pop-on, pop-off design. Both the team and client were excited about this design, but after conducting a focus group with prototypes, they discovered that people kept trying to screw off the caps, getting very frustrated in the process. So they decided to try a one-twist method approach, or “half” of their innovation. The new cap was a hit with Crest and its customers.
If you work in the public sector, your product may be license renewals, passport applications, hunting licenses, or critical information in times of emergencies.
Like with any goal setting structure, attacking your goal head-on might seem intimidating at first. Follow these steps as a starting point.
Look at the big picture. What is your organization’s mission? If you’re not sure, find out. Before you can begin to truly communicate effectively, you need to know where your organization stands and what they stand for.
Who do you want to reach? Do you have particular segments within a certain community that you’d like to reach? Take the time to really think about this one. Drivers between the ages of 18 and 24? Veterans and warfighters? Hunters and fishers? Take a cue from successful advertisers and develop personas of your customer. To use the above example, create one for the driver, the veteran, and the hunter. Read more in GovLoop’s recent blog, “Want to engage online? Put people first.”
Have you already tried reaching citizens via traditional methods, such as through paper mailings or by attempting to keep your website up-to-date, and found that it isn’t reaching the people you want to reach? Something to chew on: 94% of adults are using email for information (Pew Research, 2010) and “43% of email is now opened on a mobile device” (Litmus, Email Analytics, 2012). With these facts, it’s worth exploring the implementation of a comprehensive digital communications platform to maximize your organization’s reach. To find out more about GovDelivery’s Digital Communications Management (DCM), click here.
What do they want? Do the citizens you’re serving want more information on calendar events or news? Do they want the ability to sign up for direct alerts via their email or phones? Add a feature to your website that allows people to sign up for various topics as well as a feature that allows them to give you feedback on what other information or services they would like from you.
Don’t be afraid of a series of trial and error. Some of history’s best innovators seemingly “stumbled” upon an innovation after numerous failures.
I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. -Thomas Edison
Want to read more? Here are four great quick reads on innovation.