We’re proud to launch “Implementing Innovation – A User’s Manual for Open Government Programs.” You can download the PDF here, visit the Implementing-Innovation.org microsite, or contact us for a hard copy.
This guide draws from our experience around the world helping government reformers achieve real change. It is a practical resource for anyone working to implement an open government initiative, whether they are inside government or outside supporters. This post tells the story of how this manual came together. We hope you will find the manual useful, and we welcome feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In 2012, two Mexican civil society leaders were on the cusp of a big decision: whether to take jobs in their federal government. They did not take the deliberation lightly. They had previously founded a non-profit focused on citizen participation in public policy, but had never served in government. They were wrapping up public policy-related graduate degrees. They believed in the ability of government to make a difference, but were more used to going against its bureaucracy than working with it.
But when asked to join an innovation unit within the Office of the President of Mexico, they decided to seize the opportunity to push their values into practice on a national scale.
Those familiar with open government or public sector reform initiatives will recognize the daunting questions they faced next. How would they make the complex, all-encompassing goals of “innovation” and “open government” meaningful and actionable? How would entrenched bureaucrats within the Mexican government respond to reform? How would they secure the specialized talent and funds they needed to realize their ambitions?
As the number of open government programs proliferates around the world, more innovators are finding themselves in similar situations. While guidelines for general and public sector program management abound, the implementation of open government policies and programs remains largely uncharted territory. Many who sign up to pursue innovation in government find themselves challenged to be innovative in their own program management. Case studies of these programs are common, but advice for the nitty-gritty work of execution is still sparse.
This manual was created in response to this widespread need. It benefits heavily from the experience of innovators within the Mexican government and draws on Reboot’s work with open government initiatives around the world. With an openness towards learning and, importantly, toward taking calculated risks, the leaders of the aforementioned innovation unit curated a team to design and launch a portfolio of programs that would advance public sector innovation. They collaborated across agencies and with civil society and the private sector, navigated unfamiliar processes, and pioneered new approaches where needed. They found ways to dig into the questions that initially sound overwhelming.
And you can too.
A growing community is creating new models for effective design and management of government innovation programs. Although too many practitioners are working in isolation, the field is rich with their collective experience and hard-earned wisdom. This guide is one small contribution to this community, as it increasingly comes together to share and exchange advice in the spirit of greater transparency, accountability, and civic participation worldwide.