Innovation Compass/Recorder

The Innovation Compass/Recorder helps to better understand enabling factors for public sector innovation and to support governments in identifying fields for improvement and in sharing good practice across institutions and borders. The Innovation Compass builds on the experience from the Scandinavian region, based on statistical surveys and reflective self-assessment. It was developed by a cross-sector network in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

Innovation Summary

Innovation Overview

Governments across the globe are confronted with increasingly complex interconnected and sometimes seemingly unsolvable issues. New questions have to be asked and new answers have to be found for the environmental, social and economic challenges of our times. However, there is no one good or right solution to these so-called “wicked problems”. Rather, these are associated with transformations that require fundamental changes in our social order and the related principles according to which decisions are made and structured.
Germany, Austria and Switzerland have committed themselves to the goals of evidence-based, impact-oriented and forward-looking government and administrative action. So far, important framework conditions have been created in order to achieve these goals (e.g., outcome orientation, e-government, Open Government Partnerships, etc.). A central challenge is to implement the concepts developed so far on a broad basis and to promote the development of new processes and structures in a professional, modern and transdisciplinary manner.

This requires institutions to open up and provide their employees with appropriate framework conditions, resources and tools in order to:
• identify challenges,
• use new (digital) processes/tools ethically correct to address these challenges,
• build easily accessible and reliable data and services,
• promote sustainable social developments focused on the common good,
• serve citizens and enable them to have a good life,
• be an attractive employer for skilled workers, and
• promote a culture of cooperation across public organizations and with civil society in order to address complex problems.

Innovations in the public sector play a decisive role when new and significantly improved processes, methods, products and services are introduced into existing administrative activities, workplace organization or external relations. To make relevant framework conditions and innovation itself more visible and effective, the Innovation Compass structures information that is based on the experiences of many people and creates a trend-setting overview. It becomes easier to understand how innovations arise in the public sector and what is needed in the future to support and develop these innovation processes in a meaningful, outcome-oriented way.

The tool is based on a combination of statistical surveys (70%) and reflective self-assessment for the identification of needs and possibilities (30%). The statistical results of the survey provide relevant evidence and support the introduction of new working methods or principles in German-speaking countries, all while ensuring international comparability of public innovation. The identification and development of new competencies and capabilities are supported by self-assessment and surveys of current and prospective needs.

The objective of the Innovation Compass is to gain a comprehensive picture of the innovative strength of the public administration across all levels of government in Germany, Austria and Switzerland on a yearly basis and to support the adaption and development of new instruments designed to support civil servants and strengthen the culture of innovation across the public sector. The Innovation Compass is not about setting up an innovation ranking with winners and losers, but rather establishing an interface for the professional development of public innovation.

In the long term, the regular surveys are intended to contribute to the effectiveness and quality of the innovative strength of the public sector, in which in-depth knowledge of the value of innovations and their effects is systematically collected and shown in an understandable manner. Existing surveys complement the empirical basis of the project. The aim is to show how political goals can be achieved, efficiency increased, higher quality achieved, democracy strengthened and the innovative capacity of public organizations increased.

Innovation Description

Innovation Development

Innovation Reflections

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  • Identifying or Discovering Problems or Opportunities - learning where and how an innovative response is needed
  • Generating Ideas or Designing Solutions - finding and filtering ideas to respond to the problem or opportunity
  • Implementation - making the innovation happen
  • Evaluation - understanding whether the innovative initiative has delivered what was needed
  • Diffusing Lessons - using what was learnt to inform other projects and understanding how the innovation can be applied in other ways

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