While the sequester will do a lot of short damage — for example the loss of $29 million or so in legal aid funding, the real risk is to the culture of innovation.
To the extent that managers in courts and legal aid programs respond to cuts by reducing investment in innovation and experimentation, the long term damage will be much greater.
Moreover, the risk is exacerbated if the sequester numbers become the “new normal.”
The only way I can think of to counter this is to work to build into all of our organizations a “culture of innovation.” All too often today, when we want to do something new, we hire a new person, set up a new department, or go for a new grant.
Instead, we have to find ways, each day, and in every activity, to ask ourselves how we can do it better. Here are some thoughts on how to move such institutionalization of innovation forward:
- Make sure that agency budgets include an “innovation line”, that is protected whatever happens
- Ask every staffer at every level to try something different, and report it to her or his colleagues
- Continue long term planning, even if the money is not there in the short term
- Keep looking for possible savings and use them for innovation
- Stay alert for areas that seem inefficient, and brainstorm transformative changes in those areas
- Give awards for innovations
Please share examples and ideas in the comments.