Every year IBM Benelux organises a series of academies for their employees to learn and share knowledge about new trends and challenges. This time Dinobusters were also present to inspire the sales managers for government. IBM has a long history going back to the 19th century of manufacturing computers and selling software. Nowadays Big Blue has developed a strong core of consultants offering intelligent solutions to their customers. One of the most powerful developments is applying cognitive technology to transform the way business is done and it can even create a better life. Imagine applications helping you to choose the perfect outfit for your birthday party. Computers supporting doctors to cure cancer more effectively. A bartender creating the best cocktails using intelligent technology blending different flavours. It is all possible and it will sooner or later change our world. But what about government? How can government embrace this new technology to create better public values?
The dinosaur in the system
Dinobusters challenged IBM to take the next step in government. What is the dream of IBM connecting government with technology? It is clear that governmental organisations in Belgium and The Netherlands are a bit behind when it comes to technology. Most of the time the structure and culture of government is blocking innovation inside administrations. The institutions have to struggle with dinosaurs that are difficult to ignore. This sometimes results in strange side effects. For example, a new technology is implemented in government and after some years this technology eds up in some kind of bureaucracy. The system started growing wild due to the large amounts of ‘exceptions’ in governmental processes and before we realize it, civil servants are more busy with the system instead of their core tasks.
Start from cratch and just do it!
What can we do to prevent government always missing the boat containing innovative solutions? How to deal with organizations living in the past crossing pathways of companies seeing the future? Maybe it is time to allow us to think things over. Start from a white canvas and go back to the initial purpose of government: creating public values. In The Netherlands we have seen initiatives experimenting with this mindset. They created a platform (www.pleio.nl ) where all civil servants and citizens can meet and co-create. This platform was developed in GitHub and is open source. The platform is some kind of a shadow government developing solutions for problems that are difficult to manage in the current governmental system. No central power is involved and is ran by civil servants working with a collaborative attitude. We have learned that innovation is all about attitude and having the courage to throw away the box our mind is trapped in.
Also in Belgium is an experiment going on with a Disruptive Committee. This Committee has the idea to challenge government in finding new solutions for safety and crime prevention. It links a long term vision about safety with new technologies offering solutions and political needs in the age of terror. One of the big challenges is to create a long term vision in a political environment. Politicians most of the time have a time horizon of around five years, while society is expecting a vision that goes beyond generations. How can we solve that? One of the ideas is to create a long term vision by a network of stakeholders and pushing quick and dirty solutions by disruption. For example, if government is struggling to track missing children you could offer bracelets with a GPS tracker on big events. When a child got lost, it can send its coordinates to the parents. In this case, most of the time a police intervention will not be necessary and it will save time to focus on other tasks.
This is what we call Ninja Government. Companies and citizens are creating public values, better and faster. They prepare themselves in the bushes with innovative technology and …BAM! They come out! If government fails to create a solution, society can pick it up. Think about Google already walking this road. They dreamed about a society without car accidents, so the self driving car was developed. They were thinking about how to offer free internet to developing countries and weather balloons with modems were launched into the air. If you can dream it, you can do it. Where are you waiting for?
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The Sell forward Academy of IBM took place on October 11th 2016 in Geertruidenberg, The Netherlands.