The Importance of Innovation in the Public Sector

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Have you ever seen the movie Black Panther in 2018? If you have watched it, there is one interesting quote that I will quote in this article.

“Just because something works, doesn’t mean it can’t be improved”

Princess Shuri, Black Phanter (2018)

The quote is very interesting because it is the main spirit of innovation. At least in my opinion.

Based on, Innovation is the practical implementation of ideas that result in the introduction of new goods or services or improvement in offering goods or services. ISO TC 279 in the standard ISO 56000:2020 defines innovation as “a new or changed entity realizing or redistributing value”. Others have different definitions; a common element in the definitions is a focus on newness, improvement, and spread of ideas or technologies.

Innovation has a very important role in various aspects of work. Both the private sector and the public sector, all need innovation. In the public sector, for example, the Government of Indonesia, through the Ministry of State Apparatus Utilization and Bureaucratic Reform (Menteri Pendayagunaan Aparatur Negara dan Reformasi Birokrasi Republik Indonesia) regularly holds public service innovation awards every year.

I can say that sentence “just because something has worked as it should, does not mean it cannot be improved” is a spirit in the awarding. As a real example, North Kalimantan Province – the agency where I work – received the Top 45 Public Service Innovations 2019. This award was achieved through the Population Administration Service System program for the Border Region (Sistem Pelayanan Administrasi Kependudukan Untuk Wilayah Perbatasan – Sipelandukilat), as one of the public service innovations. In fact, population administration services are mandatory tasks that have been routinely carried out, but with the spirit of improving public services, this Sipelandukilat program was born.

Everyone should have a spirit of innovation, especially for those of us who are career and trusted to work in the public sector. It is true that society has been well served, but as servants of society, each of us must be able to improve the quality of the service. Society must feel there is a change in the positive direction of the pattern of work and service provided by its servants. Moreover, not a few civil servants who work with the spirit of “just follow as the habit of last year”, the spirit is the opposite of innovation. Not a few civil servants who in their duties, say making reports on the development of physical and financial realization, “only” copy-paste and change as necessary that may not even be aware of certain formulas in the report is not true.

Perhaps innovation will take time and thought at first. But I believe, innovation can facilitate and accelerate every task implementation. Starting to innovate doesn’t have to be directly on big things like making new policies, creating new systems, and so on. Innovation can start from the simplest thing. As simple as starting to change the habit of writing the incoming letter agenda manually on the book and storing the physical letter in the filing cabinet to digitally schedule the mail and store digital scans of the letter in virtual storage.

In conclusion, innovation is very important to always be echoed. Do not fixate on routine things and seem to have gone well, which can still be improved in terms of quality, time, and other sides.

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