First ever innovation workshop for civil servants

A first of its kind Accelerating Innovation in Bhutan workshop was held in the country to sensitize government counterpart and key stakeholders on innovation, trends in public sector innovation.

Head of the Regional Innovation Centre (RIC) at UNDP Asia Pacific, Giulio Quaggiotto, was the facilitator. The participants were taught the trends in public sector innovation, and how countries around the world are embracing innovation, as a tool, for development and creating conditions for innovation in the government.

“Innovation has a direction and the governments have an important role to play in shaping and driving it. Many people, when talking about innovation, they probably think about private sector, young people, etc. I believe, very strongly, that the government can play a very important role in innovation,” said Giulio Quaggiotto.

Innovation these days is very important because lots of things are changing, he said. He said that lots of innovation is happening in Bhutan. The traditional tools that governments have at their disposal to make sense of the world and navigate the complexities of the constantly shifting context around are under strain and cracking under pressure.

“They are not designed for today’s fast changing world and its complex and unpredictable challenges,” he added.

Chairperson of RCSC, Karma Hamu Dorjee, said that going forward in today’s Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA) world, if a country is to continue to go from strength-to-strength, and fulfill the aspirations of His Majesty The King, there is substantial work to be done and many risks that must be addressed.

“We must embrace innovation and transformation to deliver more effective, timely and responsive services. RCSC has taken to foster innovation in the civil service, including the introduction of design thinking to promote citizen centric mind-set to embrace creativity and change,” she added.

During the tenure of the past commission, efforts to appoint an innovation and creativity officer were initiated. However, civil servants volunteering for this position were not forthcoming, and RCSC did not have a clear framework on how to go about it.

She said, “We are currently working on how to revitalize this initiative, and this workshop could provide us vital inputs.” RCSC believes that creativity and innovation are critical to tackle the challenges they face, such as youth unemployment, promoting entrepreneurship, improving service delivery, etc.

Meanwhile, UNDP Resident Representative, Azusa Kubota, said “There is a need for us to drastically reframe our development pathway.”

UNDP Bhutan is exploring partnerships to help the RGoB in addressing complex challenges through systems thinking and design, a new holistic approach that not only looks at mapping the system but also identifying leverage points for experimentation.

Citing an example, the government has identified addressing youth unemployment as one of the top priorities in the 12th Five-Year-Plan. Youth unemployment is a complex and dynamic challenge. In partnership with the government, UNDP has initiated the process of system mapping of youth unemployment.

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