Enter the public entrepreneur: implementing innovation in the public sector

April 27, 2017 by

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Public entrepreneurship is an idea whose time has come. As the challenges for public services and society become more acute and complex, a concept with its roots in the 1960s is being increasingly revisited as public leaders look to inject entrepreneurial spirit and innovation into the traditional structures and processes of government. While “social entrepreneurs” are people outside government, public entrepreneurs act within government and, at their heart, are a blend of two different roles: that of a public servant, and that of an entrepreneur. The underlying premise is that these roles are usually distinct but the skill sets they require need not be. Indeed, the future public servant will increasingly need to think and act like an entrepreneur – building new relationships, leveraging resources, working across sector lines and acting, and sometimes failing, fast. Within organisations, this means stimulating innovation through a problem-solving spirit and a natural bent for working more closely with citizens. Across systems, it means building coalitions and crosssector collaborations that can improve outcomes, control cost and sustain access in ways that span the traditional siloes of government.