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Innovation Isn't Always Big

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At today's Excellence in Government live event, Sydney Heimbrock, deputy associate director for strategic workforce planning at the Office of Personnel Management, offered a key insight during a panel discussion of OPM's Pathways federal hiring program.

"Small 'i' innovation" is really important to improving operations, Heimbrock argued. Not everything is the next iPad, she said. Many smaller-scale innovations consist of "simply improving on what's being done, or taking something from one context and applying it to a different context."

That's an interesting concept, in that it gives people even in highly structured organizations such as federal agencies permission to suggest small-scale improvements that could add up to big changes in the way government works. But it's also a bit daunting, in the sense that it means they can't use the lack of a really big idea -- or internal resistance when such ideas are proposed -- as an excuse not to continue to innovate all the time.

(Image via Graeme Shannon /Shutterstock.com)

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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