Category: Gov Reflections

How Can Government Embrace Innovation Without Fear?

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

California Admission Day

California Admission Day

On January 13, 1847, the Treaty of Cahuenga was signed to end the fighting of the Mexican-American War in California. The agreement led to California being under military control the following years. Subsequently, the state grew rapidly in 1848 with the discovery of gold along the American River near Sacramento. The rush of newcomers increased the population of California causing demand for a more represented government. This would lead to the first state constitution draft in 1849. Soon in accordance to the Compromise of 1850, California was admitted into the United States as a free state on September 9, 1850 (directly becoming the 31st state and never requiring it to spend a period of time as a territory).

September 9th, also known as Admission Day, used to be a celebrated day of importance for all Californians. Governor Jerry Brown vetoed a measure in 1976 that would have removed Admission Day as a state holiday. However, in 1984 Governor George Deukmejian signed legislation discontinuing the observance of Admission Day.

Still, today we remember Admission Day and the value it brings to California and all its residents. We celebrate our state’s rich history built by its people from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Individuals here in search of economic, social, and educational opportunities to create a better quality of life. We recognize how California continues to be a powerhouse and leader not only nationally, but also in the global community.

So tonight when you are out celebrating with friends and family remember to toast one to California. Remember that our state motto is Eureka meaning “I have found it”. Remember that these words refer to the discovery of gold in California. Remember that California is gold. Remember that we all seek happiness and freedom to live our lives to the fullest. Remember our beautiful state with its many opportunities. Remember if you are looking for a reason to celebrate, Eureka! Here’s to you California!

9 facts on 9/9 in honor of California’s Admission Day

1. Like Fine Wine: California is the largest grape and wine producing state in the United States. Over 99% of grapes commercially grown in the United States come from California. Remember to toast a glass of wine tonight, which most likely came from California.

2. Supply and Demand: California is the first state to ever become a trillion dollar economy. The state has the sixth largest economy in the world!

3. Half/Half: If you were to cut California in half along Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles (from the Pacific Ocean to the Arizona border), half of the state’s 40 million population would fall below Wilshire and the other half above it.

4. Californians Everywhere: California is the most populous state with approximately 40 million people. This equals to about one out of every eight individuals in the country being from California. California has four of the top 15 most populous cities in the United States. These cities include Los Angeles (2nd), San Diego (8th), San Jose (10th), and San Francisco (13th).

5. Grizzly State: The state was originally known as the Grizzly Bear State. As growth continued and the bear population went extinct, California became known as the Golden State.

6. The Highs and Lows: The highest point in California is Mt Whitney (elevation of 14,505 feet) and the lowest point in California is Death Valley (282 feet below sea level). These two locations are only 109 miles apart from each other!

7. Natural Beauty: The world’s tallest tree is Hyperion, a coast redwood standing 379 feet, at the Redwood National Park in California. The exact location of the tree is kept a secret to protect the 800-year-old landmark.

8. NorCal and SoCal: There is a palm tree and pine tree planted together along Highway 99 (State Route 99) in the San Joaquin Valley. These two trees serve as an indicator at the midpoint of California. The pine tree represents Northern California’s beautiful landscape and the palm tree represents the gorgeous sunshine of Southern California.

9. The Jock: California has twenty major professional sports league franchises. This is far more than any other state. It has also been the only state in the country to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics. In 2028 California will once again host the Summer Olympics which will take place in Los Angeles.



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.

DISCLAIMER: This is an unofficial organization that is not connected to any one government entity.

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