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‘HOW INNOVATION CAN BLOSSOM IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT’ DR JOHN MARTIN, EMERITUS PROF LA TROBE, ADJUNCT PROF, ACELG, UTS, FLGMA.

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Presentation on theme: "‘HOW INNOVATION CAN BLOSSOM IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT’ DR JOHN MARTIN, EMERITUS PROF LA TROBE, ADJUNCT PROF, ACELG, UTS, FLGMA."— Presentation transcript:

1 ‘HOW INNOVATION CAN BLOSSOM IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT’ DR JOHN MARTIN, EMERITUS PROF LA TROBE, ADJUNCT PROF, ACELG, UTS, FLGMA

2 And how it can die away…….. What happens to innovation award winners in local government? What can we learn from those golden periods of innovation in local governments?

3 Innovation Strategies in Australian Local Government Research based on Commonwealth Government innovation award winners in the late 90s ‘interested in the way in which innovation processes become embedded in the culture of local government organisations’ After hearing each recipient in the selection process I visited the award winners to meet with the staff and learn more about their innovation What did I observe? How did my findings relate to the literature on innovation?

4 The case studies See: Martin, J. (2000) Innovation Strategies in Australian Local Government: Occasional Paper 4, Melbourne, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute (email me for a copy) Richmond River Shire (now Richmond Valley) Whittlesea City Council Wollongong City Council Baraba Shire Council (now Tamworth RC)

5 What did we find? Identified eight characteristics of innovative local government: – The key role of creative individuals – Responding to external pressure for change – Encouraging experimentation and the search for new ideas – Networking with other organisations – Building on absorptive capacity – Building Innovative Capacity – Managing flexible organisation structures – Having a long-term community focus

6 Wollongong City Council, NSW In 1997 Wollongong City Council received a national Australian Quality Award Key principles: – Customer focus – Continuous improvement – Teamwork – Data and measurement a ‘free standing’ enterprise bargaining agreement, one that it is not supported by employment awards (a common practice in other local government organisations), and one which guarantees employment security (something the Council has been able to deliver on).

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8 Legacy: Quality Improvement ‘The NSW corruption watchdog has recommended charges be laid against former Wollongong town planner … … and her erstwhile lover, developer … …, over a sex-for-development scandal at Wollongong City Council.’ ‘Oct 9, 2008 - The ICAC yesterday labelled the saga as the most entrenched corruption it had witnessed with all involved facing possible jail sentences of up...’ ‘But to establish actual corrupt conduct within five levels of a NSW public sector organisation, as has occurred with Wollongong City Council, is without precedent,’ (ICAC Commissioner Cripps)

9 Richmond River Shire Council, NSW Their business enterprise making concrete products for bridges and drainage won a Bluett Award in the mid 90s. In 2000 amalgamated with Casino Municipal Council to form Richmond Valley Shire Council.

10 Legacy: Entrepreneurial income Enterprise wound up in recent years with debts of $4mill, a large workers comp case to fund and lawyers fees for the RVC. To cover costs they ‘grew the business’ and took on work well beyond their community. Competed with private sector on large jobs, claims they were undercut on bids.

11 City of Whittlesea, Victoria Has won numerous innovation awards over an extended period. Senior management team remains in place over this period. Relatively stable council not impacted by amalgamations. Focus on planning, technology and community engagement.

12 Legacy: Continuing progress Whittlesea is one of the fastest growing urban councils in the northern suburbs of Melbourne. It continues to be recognised as an innovative organisation across many council functions.

13 Bararba Shire Council The ‘Bird Routes of Baraba’ The GM and a local stock & station agent Now the Tamworth Regional Council

14 Legacy: Bird Routes of the Tamworth Regional Council Area Now some 23 ‘bird routes’ of central NSW based on the Bird Routes of Barraba model.

15 TRC State of the Env Report ‘All vegetated Travelling Stock Routes (TSRs) and road reserves should be managed as environmentally sensitive areas because of their value as habitat corridors, unique landscape and vegetation features and significance for vegetation cover, as well as a refuge for threatened plants and animals. The TSRs of the former Barraba shire were the basis of the award winning ― Bird Routes of Barraba‖that encourages birdwatchers to visit the region.’ (p.156)

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19 Do the characteristics of innovative local government still apply? Yes, but we would add. An innovative culture is ephemeral, transitory Leadership changes (CEO/senior managers and/or Mayor/councillors) will make a difference – they need to ‘make their mark’ Innovation is coincidental and good luck, but It can be facilitated, organised and managed The characteristics provide a framework

20 Diagnosing your council’s readiness for innovation

21 In Summary We can all reflect on the good times, they pass We can think through what made these times good We can all show leadership – it is not the privy of those in authority We all have a choice: take initiative or …..

22 Good luck – you’ll need it John.martin@latrobe.edu.au 0421584313


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