How Can Government Embrace Innovation Without Fear?

Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

Government is risk-averse, and for good reason; but when risk-aversion paralyzes and disables progress and evolution, it’s time for government employees to seek out other options to design and deliver public services. Amidst the layers of bureaucracy, government employees often struggle to see how their work makes an impact. How can employees make the change they want to see in the world? The answer may lie in the evolving world of agile-methodologies and user-centered design.

What if public servants worked directly with the user of a government service in order to deliver immediate value? Passionate public servants could find an opportunity to test out ideas and make adjustments more quickly and effectively than through the traditional path of change in government.

The Challenge
NxtGov Ambassadors and the NxtGov Executive Team considered these issues and developed this challenge statement for fellow public servants:

Users First: Embracing Innovation without Fear

User expectations and our employees’ ability to deliver collaborative, innovative, holistically effective processes and services are dependent on having a flexible and trusting environment that allows us to be experimental and build upon innovative ideas without the fear of failure or repercussion.

How might we eliminate restrictive practices that impose an expectation of perfection and finality that exclude the end-user of the process or service? How might we change the current “traditional” practices that impede our workforce from being agile and adopting human-centered design practices in our daily work?

  • Do you want to cultivate your good ideas into solutions that give value?
  • Do you want to team innovative pathways to California’s most challenging enterprise problems?
  • Do you want to create a culture that can sustain, advance and accelerate services to society?

You Can Help Us Find the Answers

NxtGov is partnering with ORA Systems Inc., APSEA, GovOps and others in the California Innovation Playbook for Government Change Agents (Cal-IPGCA) Training program. The program will address this issue (and others) with help of this year’s cohort of Leaders, Innovators and Change Agents in government.

Are you a government employee interested in participating in the Cal-IPGCA Cohort 2018? One lucky NxtGov member will qualify for a scholarship to participate in this year’s program. Applications are due July 31st.

Feel free to reach out to our NxtGov leadership team or see here to learn more about the Cal-IPGCA program. The program takes place from August 9th- December 6th.

Apply Now

Learn More

July: Sun, Professional Development, and More!

Summer is here! And we are excited to share what’s new. ​

Have a fun and safe holiday!


Opportunities to Get Involved


Innovation Playbook for Government Change Agents
Apply by July 20!
Scholarship Available

Cal-IPGCA Cohort 2018 is seeking state government employees who see themselves as Leaders, Innovators and Change Agents…is this you?

  • Do you want to cultivate your good ideas into solutions that give value?
  • Do you want to team innovative pathways to California’s most challenging enterprise problems?
  • Do you want to create a culture that can sustain, advance and accelerate services to society?

Consider registering for the California Innovation Playbook for Government Change Agents (Cal-IPGCA) 2018 Series. From August 9 – December 6, Cal-IPGCA provides a unique leadership training opportunity that includes an innovation laboratory. NxtGov is pleased to support this one of a kind opportunity. Our NxtGov Ambassadors developed one of the Innovation Priorities for the innovation trainees to work on during this Cal-IPGCA cohort so that the concerns of NxtGov members can be represented at this high profile program.

Want more information? Attend the Informational Workshop on July 12 from 11:30 – 12:30 at DGS. Register here for the informational workshop.

A scholarship will be available for one NxtGov member!
We are grateful to have Cal-IPGCA offer a scholarship to a NxtGov member! Simply indicate you are a member of NxtGov on the registration form and you’ll be considered for the scholarship. Application deadline is July 20. Register today! Cal-IPGCA Program Registration Form

NxtGov Ambassador Program – Now Accepting Applications!


As a platform of change in government, NxtGov is re-opening applications to the Ambassador Program to increase our community of rising stars from across California state government. These stars represent the next generation of leaders and are a resource to incoming and current civil servants that are looking to make a difference.

As a NxtGov Ambassador, you will be active in connecting public servants you know with all the opportunities NxtGov has to offer. In this role, you will represent your organization at inter-departmental roundtable discussions on issues, concerns, questions, and ideas to strengthen our workforce and better serve California.

Attend an Information Session to learn more or apply today. Applications will be accepted through July 22.

Can’t make it to an info session? Check out the ambassador program informational presentation here!

Monthly Happy Hour

Our last happy hour brought new faces and fresh dialogue around public service. Thanks to everybody who came out and we hope you enjoyed yourself as much as we did!

We are excited for what’s to come this month and we hope to see you all for Happy Hour on July 26!

Project Birthday Party was a Success!


Thanks to everyone for making our Project Birthday event on June 30 a big success! Through the support of countless NxtGov members, donors, and volunteers, we were able to host a birthday party at the Salvation Army Transitional Home. We had a blast and look forward to future collaboration with Project Birthday!

To help plan or participate in future community engagement events, please contact about joining the Community Engagement Committee!

Next Week  – “Personal Budgeting and Finance 101, Made Fun” Lunchtime Workshop


When: Wednesday, 7/11, 12:15 PM – 1:00 PM
Where: California Department of Social Services – Room 205 Auditorium OB9 or online via webinar
Cost: Free
Audience: Current civil service employees
Join Brian Diamond as he helps you reduce some stress in your life by teaching you how to get in control of your finances. 
  • Learn how to create a BUDGET and be in control of your finances
  • Understand where your MONEY goes, and why a budget is necessary
  • Discover things we do in our daily life that sabotages our FINANCES
  • Tips for you to decrease your monthly SPENDING and live beneath your means

Save the Date!  – “Managing Your Boss” Workshop


When: Wednesday, 8/1, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Where: The Urban Hive
Cost: $12 (includes refreshments)
Audience: Current civil service employees
Register Here

NxtGov and Upgrade Training are joining forces to provide a series of workshops that make careers in the civil sector easier, more effective, and ultimately more rewarding.

This first workshop is a combination educational and networking event where participants will form alliances and share experiences on working with demanding and difficult bosses.  Attendees will walk away with a task list of tangible actions they can take to improve their most important working relationship.

This two hour workshop will be presented by Bo Tyler who has trained over 3000 state employees and 700 state managers.

Space is limited so register as soon as possible! Registration is required to attend the event.


NxtGov has partnered with various organizations to administer Demystifying State Jobs or How to Get a State Job 101 workshops and speaking engagements to encourage civic-minded people and young adults to consider a career in public service. As these partnerships continue to grow, we hope to promote internship and mentorship opportunities. Contact us about the Recruitment Program for more information.


Authors: Isabella Blasi and Angelica Quirarte 

Public service is a humble profession that impacts the lives of millions and intersects all industries. The concept of being a “state worker” has a negative connotation that is not reflective of the amazing work that civil servants do every day. The bureaucracy of our government sometimes prevent us from being the most effective in our daily work and service delivery and social impact seem slow. However, the people behind the scenes are part of something greater, even when they don’t know it.

As public servants we have the power to change the world, if we can break our silos, build connections and embrace our mission to serve the public.  Below are eight actions that we as public servants can do to collaborate, serve and inspire: 

1. Listen

Serving the public means serving individuals, families and communities. Be active in learning about the people you serve. Listen to what are their needs, challenges, strengths and values. Engage with clients when appropriate, keep up with community news, be an advocate for your public and serve as the link between the public and the big bureaucracy.

2. Be a program expert

As a public servant you have the power to use your skills and knowledge to help make Californians’ lives better. The public depends on you to apply your skills into programs that affects millions of lives. Being an expert in your field shows that you play an essential role in ensuring that people are being served. Don’t shy away from the opportunity to use your knowledge!

3. Know the little things matter

Seemingly mundane tasks can go a long way, especially when interacting with the public. Something as simple as redirecting a phone call to the right department can mean helping put food on a family’s table. Simply listening to a client’s backstory can help him or her feel confident that they are heard and matter to the government.

4. Be a connector

We depend on relationships and collaboration to truly drive effective change. It is through the shared opportunities and resources that we can help bring others along when working on complex issues. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the amount of information we do not know within the bureaucracies of government. Playing an active role in connecting people to resources when you find those opportunities will create synergy in our work.

5. Be nice to yourself

While your work is invaluable, it is not your sole responsibility to save the world each and every day. Know your sphere of influence, constantly work towards expanding it and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t solve climate change in one day. Instead, collaborate with your fellow public servants and keep trying.

6. Be solution-oriented

Don’t be discouraged by the “big bad bureaucracy” or the seemingly insurmountable public issues we are responsible for solving. Be creative when thinking of ways to address the issues that arise.

7. Be a mentor

You’ve worked hard to get to where you are. What are lessons learned that would inspire our workforce? Know of someone close to you that has potential? Most of us have been able to find opportunities with the support of mentors. Find the opportunity to mentor someone and give back. Our experiences serve as lessons learned for others.

8. Give back to your community

If you are looking to collaborate, to serve, and to inspire others, join us. NxtGov is here to stay, because our work is never done and we always need peers and partners to effect change.