Government Clockmakers

Sometimes it is not the lack of resources that keeps us away from realizing an idea, but a concern that the idea is not “worth trying” or not having a “safe space” to try it. All these thoughts and ideas elicit different tensions, and can complicating the realization of a generation of new ideas, making us stuck with the old ones in the process.

Imagine, for example, somebody working in the government. He or she is responsible for ensuring the smooth flow of an operational process, key for the functioning of the huge bureaucrat machine and the continued delivery of public services for every citizen in the country.

Similar to the inner workings of a clock, comprising many tiny moving parts that must be oiled and maintained, the inner workings of the state machinery likewise depends on the smooth functioning of all sorts of moving parts. And like the clock keeper, too, the mysterious figures behind these intricate mechanisms know well which elements need more attention, what needs to be improved and crystallized. They have this knowledge but they need a short and easy way to make the suggestions heard and become reality. The information for improvement does not mean anything unless it can be implemented.

Knowledge needs implementation in order to be useful.

Kolba Lab had some ideas on how to realise this knowledge of Armenia’s government clockmakers.

The Ministry of Justice of Armenia and Government Staff of Armenia were the pioneers in this episode of governance innovation, dedicating a space for ideation and testing for their employees. For the first time in Armenia, the Ministry of Justice hosted a pop-up innovation lab conducted by experts from UK-based Public Sector Innovation Group, FutureGov. For couple of days our colleagues from FutureGov and innovators from the ministry discussed and tested their ideas.

The pop-up lab gave the opportunity to explore the process of design and delivery of public services, go into the ‘user experience” both from the service provider’s and consumers’ perspectives. Engaging with people directly usually reveals interesting details of their work, and gives insight into the way they think and the type of problems they face. Exploration of each working process can surprise both the designer and the user of a (public) service. Ideally, well-designed (public) services are built on solid understanding of all aspects.

FutureGov team analyzing ideas raised at Pop-up Innovation Lab in the Ministry of Justice

After having tested the prototypes of their ideas at the pop-up lab, public servants from the ministry were more confident in applying to the call for innovative ideas in the public sector. The call was part of “#Inno4Dev: Innovation for development” project which is funded by the European Union. The aim of the call was to optimize working processes, to make public services more participatory and to ensure effective feedback and communication mechanism. Employees of these agencies submitted their innovative ideas online, describing the problem they’ve experienced during their work in governance sector and proposing the relevant innovative solution. Outreach meeting and discussion was carried out in the office of Prime Minister of Armenia, where through question and answer session with Kolba Lab and blitz prototyping some initial ideas were discussed.

Public Sector Innovation Award

As a result of the idea competition, six ideas (three from each state agency) were picked to progress:

  1. Optimization of registration procedures for new-born children

2. Online consulting system for citizens’ of government services

3. Consolidated request portal for submitting information to all state agencies through single web platform

4. Optimization system of internal business processes in the Government of Armenia

5. Mobile reporting application for consumers’ rights protection

6. Online broadcasting of government sessions

Additionally, one further application received special recognition and an award. The suggestion didn’t need an idea incubation support and is already being implemented. Zhenya Harutyunyan, from the Ministry of Justice suggested to create a web platform for citizens’ inquiries to the Ministry of Justice.

Armenian First Public Sector Innovation Award Ceremony

This was Kolba Lab’s first attempt to crowd-source innovative ideas in public sector. We will share news on idea incubation in couple of months, so follow our communication channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, to be the first to know about government start-ups launch in Armenia.

The focus of the next crowdsourcing round will be the education sector in Armenia, so if you have any idea or enthusiasm to contribute to this topic, make sure to let us know by writing us at idea[at]kolba[dot]am.

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