Since 2016, I have served as an Innovation Specialist for the OECD’s Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) (@OPSIgov), a global forum for innovation in government. The OECD is a Paris-based international organization with 37 member countries. Its primary goal is to shape policies that foster prosperity, equality, opportunity, and well-being for all. Within the OECD, OPSI works with governments to understand and encourage new approaches to address society’s complex problems by empowering public servants with new insights, knowledge, tools, and connections to help them explore new possibilities. The projects below are some of my favorites so far.
Tracking global innovation trends
One of my OECD team’s mission objectives is to “uncover emerging practice and identify what’s next.” To help achieve this, I manage an annual project to conduct research and host an open ‘Call for Innovations’ crowdsourcing exercise. In this, we seek to uncover innovative projects and initiatives going on around the world. We analyze these cases and surface key trends, challenges, and success factors in innovation today, as well as examples and stories to illustrate them and recommendations to help support innovation.
We are currently in our fourth annual cycle of work. For 2020, we are issuing five reports on specific trends and focus areas, with the first one on Innovative Responses to the COVID-19 Crisis published in July. In addition to reports, we develop digital stories to help users better understand these trends and cases.
Tech primers for public servants
Hype around emerging technologies often overstates or obscures their practical applications. An understanding of these technologies is important for helping policy makers and civil servants determine whether they can help them achieve their missions.
To help public officials navigate this complex terrain, distinguish hype from reality, and be better informed about what these technologies may mean in their own context, I’ve led teams of brilliant people to create tech “primers” that seek to:
- • Highlight key background details and provide accessible, contextualized explanations of technical underpinnings.
- Assess the current global landscape of the technology.
- Surface implications and provide recommendations to government.
- Illustrate key practices and initiatives through case studies.
Innovation case study platform and COVID-19 response tracker
I’m the overall project manager for the OPSI website. One of my favorite projects has been leading the development and ongoing iteration of one of OPSI’s lead services: a digital case study platform where innovations can be collected and shared to help disseminate good ideas. Any public sector innovator may submit innovations to the platform and at present there are about 400 cases on the platform, with new cases being added regularly.
Recently, we also built a similar platform as a COVID-19 Innovative Response Tracker that collects and shares innovative response practices by governments and public interest organizations in hopes that hey can inspire action, enable shared learning, embed successes and accelerate change. Anyone can submit details on a response, which are immediately published on the tracker.