OPSI meet-up pilot

Written by , Innovation Specialist on 10 February 2021

Are you interested in meeting with others from around the world interested in the issues of public sector innovation and government transformation? We’re looking to test a virtual meet-up event format with interested practitioners from the community interested in our work at OPSI on 25 February. 

Engaging in new ways

Crises are big opportunities to experiment and give different things a try, safe in the knowledge that the standard options are not good enough. And 2020 was a big opportunity for us at OPSI (and the OECD more broadly and many, many others) to test out different ways of engaging with the countries that we work with, and the practitioners involved in trying to do things differently in the public sector. 

The most obvious example of this was our work with Government After Shock, where we: 

  • Worked with other event hosts to learn from their discussions rather than trying to duplicate them 
  • Ran a podcast to tap into the wisdom of a diverse group about what was happening and what they were seeing 
  • Provided a platform for partners from across the world to run a diverse set of events but with a common thread to aid collective learning. 

Government After Shock was different to the other conferences that we’ve held, and it helped us to learn a lot, and two things of particular relevance to this conversation. First, it showed us that there are lot of people interested in the conversations around public sector innovation and government transformation who will get involved if they’re given the opportunity. Second, while the OECD has a lot of strength in data collection and comparative performance of countries, there’s clearly still more for us to learn about how to both tap into and help facilitate collective learning about emergent lessons arising from practice (e.g. the issues faced by practitioners through the COVID-19 pandemic). A lot of our work for countries benefits from our network’s insights and our OPSI blog, newsletter and webinars are great aids in connecting us with others. However, these existing channels tend to be a bit more structured, set and one-way, rather than allowing for more discovery and open-ended discussions. 

Drawing on our experiences with Government After Shock, and the opportunities to try out virtual events offered by the pandemic, we would like to test with you (people interested in OPSI and the topics we work on) a more informal style of event to connect practitioners and others. The primary aim would be to connect like-minded people, to share experiences and perhaps learn something new. The secondary aim would be to draw on the experiences and knowledge of participants to help us collectively learn about what’s happening and capture relevant insights faster, so that we can better pass the resultant research and guidance on to the broader community. 

In doing this, we are not looking to duplicate the work of others in running networks or similar activities (indeed, we are currently trying to identify and help connect those who run such networks). Rather, this is an attempt to explore how we can get better at connecting practitioners from around the world while at the same time learning from those practitioners, so that our work is better informed and more relevant to governments and those who work in/with them. Your involvement will hopefully help us get better at helping you. 

For our first test, we want to focus more on this being a social exercise – e.g. facilitating participants meeting others from different contexts, to share and to connect – rather than focusing on a particular topic. We want to make sure that this can provide value to those who participate first and foremost. (And if it doesn’t do that, then we very probably will not have a second test!) If we can achieve that, then we’ll be looking at running others that are perhaps more topic- or question- based (or we might get better suggestions from those who participate!). 

If you’re interested in participation, then you can register for the event, to be held at 1pm CEST on 25 February. (Time zone wise, we know this will not be ideal for everyone – virtual events have shortcomings as do in-person ones, just different ones – if we do more of these, we’ll look to cater to different time zones more appropriately.) We look forward to seeing some of you then!

    • Great, we look forward to seeing you then Johan! We’re also trying to catalogue local/national/international networks which can help those in different regions connect with each other too.

  1. Alex, What a great idea! OECD/OPSI would be a great partner for work occurring in this arena around the world. I’m especially interested in two key components of infrastructure for performance excellence in government: promoting and supporting democratic engagement and linking systems of outcome measures/indicators. If appropriate, I’d like to forward the information to other members of the Government Division of ASQ.

      • Thanks so much, Franziska. I’ll check that out. I wish there was a supportive system to measure performance across government, nonprofit and social-impact investing, and they might be able to help there.

  2. I think a community of practice on an international level for public sector innovation is much needed

  3. I would love to meet/speak to anyone else in government with a mandate to improve client experience. I’m trying to find colleagues as my position is the only of its kind in our provincial government.

  4. I really embrace the idea of creative new ways to Engage with others on topics like innovation on government level. The feeling of missing Peers to talk with in creative ways and on higher level than tactical (at the moment on senior management level) is a big at the moment for me.

  5. So often, I cone across those in tghe public sector repeating the same msitakes as others, or to put it another way, unable to learn from each other so we do not make the same mistakes. Also there is a wealth of knowledge that we haev ammassed.
    This collaboration with each other, as evidenced by the comments to this post, is somethign that we are all wishing to do more of. I hope that this can be the start of something that is helpful to so many of us.

  6. Hola Alex, te envío un saludo desde Bogotá, Colombia

    He tenido la oportunidad de leer tu artículo y me ha llamado la atención la descripción que realizas sobre el poder de las redes tanto formales como informales para fortalecer un proceso de innovación; esto teniendo en cuenta que, uno de los desafíos más grandes principalmente en el sector público es superar el temor a generar e implementar ideas nuevas dado el riesgo en materia política y mediática a la que se pueden exponer los funcionarios públicos. De esta manera, resulta indispensable el apoyo, la colaboración y la transferencia de conocimiento como una oportunidad a través de las redes, donde se pueden intercambiar experiencias y conocer de resultados eficientes en un proceso de desarrollo de innovación.

    Tal como lo explicas las redes son claves para inspirar, compartir ideas, asesorar y recibir apoyo; de hecho, este tipo de mecanismos demuestran que romper las barreras físicas y virtuales nos permite conocer casos de países tan similares como el nuestro como de muchos que llegan a ser un ejemplo de creación e innovación.

    Ahora bien, teniendo en cuenta que las interacciones que se dan en las redes generan resultados óptimos en los procesos de innovación, quisiera preguntarte cuál es tu opinión frente a que, se generen redes donde exista una sinergia entre lo público y lo privado, si bien es cierto la dinámica es distinta, los aprendizajes pueden ser muy importantes, adicionalmente podrían dar paso a creaciones interesantes donde se vean articulados e involucrados actores tanto del sector público como del privado, estos espacios no solo fomentarían e impulsarían la innovación, sino que también, consolidarían una gobernanza colaborativa hacia la generación de valor público.


    • Hi Katherinn – yes, ‘mixed’ networks with both public and private sector can be very beneficial, and indeed some of the networks we have identified include people from both. It really depends on the ambitions and context – sometimes people will want the network to focus on very specific things or want a ‘safe space’ to talk and share in, other times it will be more about trying to leverage the lessons across domains and sectors.

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