It has been a pleasure to highlight innovations and collaborations occurring in the local government sector through a series of LinkedIn posts. As I have been sharing them I have been wondering how these ideas came about. Was it one person having a flash of intuition on a better way to do something, and successfully socialising that idea in their organisation? Or was the idea born in a brainstorming session, a one to one discussion or through the positive reception of a public submission?
Were these ideas arrived at using critical thinking (such as asking ‘why’ five times, to really get to grips with the true source of a problem) or was it a flash of insight? Both pathways to innovation are viable — and can be complementary as outlined in the NZ Transport Agency’s excellent practice note on Innovation and Creativity in Business Case Development.
The practice note discusses the value of beginning with divergent thinking where the aim is to think as widely and imaginatively about the problem as possible, followed by convergent thinking, where the aim is to think much more analytically, using critical thinking skills to evaluate ideas and focus on the best option.
Innovation can occur in a number of different ways. I know my best ideas arrive as a consequence of doing three pages of writing every morning. New ideas can also spark into life when people with different perspectives and talents come together in a workshop setting.
The NZ Transport Agency’s practice note says “there is strong evidence to suggest that genuinely new creative insights are associated with situations where people are more relaxed and can give thoughts a chance to incubate”.
Here are my questions for the local government sector.