Innovating Government at Making All Voices Count

[Cross-posted from an article by Jessica Day, a marketing and technology writer and editor for IdeaScale on the innovation excellence blog. Original article available here.]
Innovation is a broadly applied concept that means many different things. Sometimes it means new features for an existing product, sometimes it means a dramatic retooling of a process, and sometimes it means changing the world. This is the case with Making All Voices count -a program premised on the belief that we can create a “world in which open, effective and participatory governance is the norm and not the exception.”
In 2013, Making All Voices Count launched the “Global Innovation Competition” which challenged a global audience to design a solution that would improve governments’ responsiveness and accountability to citizens. The competition was unique in that anyone – from organization to average citizens – no matter where they were in the world was welcome to apply to win the grand prize of £65,000.
In 2014, Making All Voices Count identified a grand prize winner, two runners-up and seven other finalists. The grand prize winning project used mobile reporting to improve the delivery of government services to those who need them most. Through the use of their system, they were able to improve student attendance from 78% to 92%. Now they are enhancing the tool to apply it to healthcare, public utilities, and more. The other winning projects were a South African initiative that aimed to increase civic engagement by rewarding positive actions and an Indonesian project whose goal is to reduce maternal mortality with SMS.
Improving delivering of government services? Reducing maternal mortality? Those are critical, game-changing programs that have the ability to be truly disruptive. And although the winning ideas themselves have revolutionary implications, what is truly innovative about this program is something more innate and radical.

Making All Voices Count Global Innovation Competition winners

The program and its winners began the conversation with a basic premise: let us imagine a different world. As we stated above Program Director Marjan Besuijen says “The Making All Voices Count is working towards a world in which Open Government is the norm, not the exception.” Taking the world and shaping it in a way that is fundamentally different than the way it is perceived today allows for a huge range of creativity – one unbounded by feasibility analysis or fettered by bottom line review. Those questions will come later, but dreaming big at the beginning allowed for some unbounded creativity at the program’s outset and should be encouraged in most innovation programs. In fact, our advisory services team often cites the fact that companies that we regard as innovative (Apple, Virgin Airlines) evaluate ideas first against innovation before they start evaluating them against the bottom line.
To learn more about the Making All Voices Count initiative, download the case study here.