How do you structure innovation without limiting the creative process?
The answer: "We look to standardize the processes around innovation, but not innovation itself," Veterans Affairs Innovation Initiative Senior Advisor Mike O'Neill said at FedScoop's Citizen Engagement & Open Government Summit Wednesday at the Newseum.
So what does he mean? In a nutshell, put a framework around the reporting of innovative projects to record what worked, what didn't, how it can be fixed in the future and what needs to go back and be revisited. Hopefully then, the department can organize its ideas to put into better use in the future.
O'Neill says innovation is at the key of engagement, finding ways to connect with clients, employees and vendors. He said he would like to find more ways to engage the vendor community, namely sharing the loads of medical and population data that the department holds in hopes it will spur further innovation.
And when it comes to employees, O'Neill said the agency has already had success by simply asking employees to submit ideas that would help their job better. On the benefits side of the agency alone, there were more than 3,500 ideas submitted that were then crowdsourced down to about 100 key ones. Of those, about a dozen received funding.
"Many of the ideas sounded dead simple, but in many cases they saved days, weeks and sometimes even months from the benefits process," O'Neill said.