StartUps and the Innovation Nation

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Tomorrow Malcolm Turnbull’s long awaited Innovation Statement is released with  huge promise, it is expected to cover five areas unlocking capital, access to Asia, greater collaboration across public and private sectors, growing the talent pool and government as exemplar in leading innovation culture. I am hopeful and a little optimistic that the statement encompasses definitive action that shifts us from talking about it to actually doing it…it’s time.

This week StartUp Muster 2015 , Australia’s largest survey of startups, was released with pertinent information on the state of startups in Australia.

The good news is that things are getting better, we are improving on gender at least when it comes to gender we are at 24% , up 8% from 2011. It’s also heartening to see that the majority of startups intend to remain in Australia. It will be interesting to see how many actually do.

 

Talk to some of the startups generated out of NICTA (now Data61), Fishburners, muru-D and, more recently, Australia’s s first FinTech hub, Stone and Chalk, that solve big problems and how hard it has been to remain in Australia. A lot of start ups need to re-locate their businesses overseas to access the incentives and tax deductions needed to accelerate and grow.

 

Challenges for startups

The survey found that the biggest external challenges faced by startups are the availability of tech talent, the availability of government scholarship and grants and non government funding.

There are a number of state and federal grants available to startups and business, outlined by Business.gov.au including the Entrepreneurs’ ProgrammeGrowth FundIndustry Skills FundInnovation and R&DCollaborationDefence IndustryEnergy and Fuels,Import and Export AssistanceManufacturingRegional Innovation FundsAustralian Small Business Advisory Services, and Venture Capital.

Access to global markets shouldn’t be an issue, especially now we have the Free Trade Agreements in place to help Australian business access China, Korea, Japan and the Trans Pacific partnership (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, United States, and Vietnam). The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade have resources with information and advice on How business can use FTAs which can unlock enormous potential.

Joining the dots 

The challenge remains, how to prepare business and start ups to understand and leverage the opportunities presented?

There remains a disconnect between government and the business, startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem. StartUp Muster has set the agenda of what we need to think about and, CEO, Mon Wulff has started the conversation with government and Ministers about what is needed. It seems to me, we need to just connect the dots between what is available and what is needed.

The Assistant Minister for Innovation has heard what the ecosystem wants and I know in my heart he has advocated fiercely for action, inspired by his recent mission to Israel, Minister Wyatt Roy has seen what happens when government creates the right conditions and gets out of the way of entrepreneurs and startups.

So as we await the Prime Minister’s  Innovation Statement, lets contemplate thecommunication and engagement required to connect the dots and really make this work, after all the agenda for innovation has been set long before this statement, it started with a renewed vigor across cabinet for Australia to become the #InnovationNation and it has been called for by the startup and entrepreneurial community for some time.

Anne-Marie Elias is a speaker and consultant in innovation and disruption for social change. She is an honorary Associate of the Centre for Local Government at UTS.

Anne-Marie has recently joined the Board of Western Sydney Women; the Australian Open Knowledge Foundation; Autism Advisory Board, and the Settlement Services International Foundation.

Follow Anne-Marie’s  journey of disruptive social innovation on Twitter @ChiefDisrupter or visit www.chiefdisrupter.com

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Time to act, what women entrepreneurs want

IMG_3827Enough talk, now its time to act and deliver on some practical outcomes for women entrepreneurs. In the last few weeks I’ve been privileged to participate in a number of initiatives around listening to women entrepreneurs. The first was Ministers Wyatt Roy and Michaelia Cash Female founders breakfast at Fishburners where I facilitated a panel discussion and question and answer session.

Over 150 women attended in full force at 7am in Ultimo. Two gracious ministers allowed me to run it like a pitch event – they each had a few minutes to say what they wanted then the rest of the session was listening to female founders – Gen George of One Shift , Nikki Durkin of 99Dresses and Jess Wilson of Stashd and hearing from amazing women on the floor. Three main areas were covered education, mentoring and finance. It was also noted that a culture change in needed to allow people to try and fail to encourage the entrepreneurial spirit.

The sIMG_3804econd was Leaders in Heels #RedHeelDay over 200 women attended a mid week event where we were wowed and inspired by amazing women – Jules Sebastien, stylist, wife and mother,  Alexandra Mills, CEO at Aussie Commerce Group  Kirsten Galliott , Editor in Chief Qantas Media  and Veronica Auld from LinkedIn all shared their wisdom about the trials and tribulations of getting ahead. I facilitated a workshop for NSW Minister for Small Business, John Barilaro about what women need from NSW government to pursue their dreams of being entrepreneurs and leaders. The call out was the same – education, mentors, finance and networks.

Finally I attended a round table with Minister for Small Business John Barilaro and Minister for Women, Pru Goward, this was a select group of successful women entrepreneurs and female founders gathered by Trade and Investment and the Office of Small Business Commissioner listened intently about how government can make things easier for female entrepreneurs. Again women reiterated what I’d already heard – education, mentors, finance, networks.IMG_4452

All this got me thinking – is it a generational thing ? Gen Y events like Launch Qand StartUpBus seem to have a better gender balance than my generation. You see, every team had strong and capable women, often leading and pitching – in fact the majority of the winners were teams lead by women.

Ground Hog Day Consultation

About 20 odd years ago I worked in the multicultural sector – advocating for migrants and ethnic communities. At the tender age of 16 I was the Youth Vice Chair for the Ethnic Communities Council and at 18 the Youth Deputy Chair of the Federation of Ethnic Communities Council. In 1988 at age  21 I became an Adviser to the then Minister for Immigration and Ethnic Affairs –the Hon Alan Clyde Holding MP. Ethnic communities were consulted by most agencies and ministers– every year various NGOs came together and presented reports, papers and submissions on the needs on migrants – 20 years on we are still asking ethnic communities what they need.  So you can imagine my shock that we are asking the same questions 20 years on, and in fact, even worse the same issues and concerns remain , as if in a time warp.

Flash forward to the new millennia and you can easily overlay this consultation inertia on any other group – disability, Indigenous, youth, seniors, startups, entrepreneurs, women – seriously people how many times do you have to ask what people need before someone says ENOUGH- we’ve been consulted to death and its time to stop talking and start acting?

2015 has been a whirlwind – this time the women of start up and entrepreneurs are getting on the consultation treadmill and we are everywhere – trotting out our stuff – our ideas, our mantras and our needs – we conquer state and federal attention however there is a point of difference between us and our forbears – we are not organised under one solid voice – we are fragmented and there are many voices but not a single entity that represents us – in fact there are many.  Ministers and agencies – well intentioned – cobble us together as the reluctant representatives of what women entrepreneurs want.

I’m really worried we are going to do the same thing to women entrepreneurs, the flavour of the moment – everyone wants to consult us, everyone wants to know what we need. I’m getting an eerie feeling of Déjà vu and I don’t like it because in 2016  we will be busy building our businesses, helping our fellow sisterhood and it would be a shame if all our combined talent and chutzpah  is not heard and acted on. I’m really hoping that in 2016 we lead a new narrative about ACTION.

Frankly this is not that hard – the women have spoken, books are being written, blogs posted and forums and roundtables had so what will it take to get us heard and just get on with some action ?

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Women want action

So what do women want – out of all the forums, round tables and events Ive been to this year – women want opportunity – from school through to post school. We want entrepreneurism taught in schools, we want  access to early advice, networks and finance, and we want a one stop shop to get information on all of the above. Women are desperate to connect to each other and to get the right advice at the right time so they can have a level playing field when it comes to entrepreneurship. We want to share our stories and celebrate our successes, we want to see ourselves and our peers on panels, advisory groups and at conferences and events.

What we don’t want is to keep being and asked what we want for the next 20 years with no outcomes other than nice photo ops and talk fest bulletins. We want action and we want to be heard beyond election cycles and we are willing to roll up ourselves and show you how – just ask.

Three steps to action for women entrepreneurs

  1. Hack it – pull together what is out there  – enough said – time to consolidate what we’ve said and what needs to happen.
  2. Host action dialogues where the information is presented and endorsed – these gatherings could emulate Policy Hack with some scaffolding (co-design with the relevant agencies, and a post hack accelerator)
  3. Consolidate the voices so we can walk to the beat of the same drum – consolidate our networks and be a force to be reckoned with and to get shit done.

Anne-Marie Elias is a speaker and consultant in innovation and disruption for social change. She is an honorary Associate of the Centre for Local Government at UTS.

Anne-Marie has recently joined the Board of Western Sydney Women and the Australian Open Knowledge Foundation.

Follow Anne-Marie’s  journey of disruptive social innovation on Twitter @ChiefDisrupter or visit www.chiefdisrupter.com

 

The PolicyHack Experiment – A Futurist vision

policyhack pano shot

PolicyHack happened – just like that!

It was the courage of a newly appointed Assistant Minister for Innovation the Hon. Wyatt Roy MP and his bold vision to hack for change that led to one of the most sought after event tickets in town.

The Policy Hack experiment was about challenging the way bureaucrats collaborate and encouraging them to engage with the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem to develop better policy and deliver better outcomes.

It was a brilliant exercise that demonstrated the capacity and appetite of entrepreneurs to come together with those from academia, corporates, capital, advisory firms, civil society and the tech and start-up sector to collaborate and develop innovative policy options for government.

PolicyHack had its fair share of critics. A number of blogs and articles appeared immediately prior to the event. They commented on the lack of planning and process, its haphazard development, its ‘exclusivity’ and the likelihood that it would produce no real outcomes in just one day.

In part they were right. However, in its defence, it was an experiment in innovation, pulled together quickly with no funds, a lot of goodwill, the generosity of a community and an enormous desire to show government that embracing the tools of innovation and entrepreneurship could deliver better outcomes. The Hack was well supported with mentors from Disruptors Handbook and Pollenizer and many others.

It was very brave of the Hon. Wyatt Roy MP , BlueChilli andt StartUpAus to take this on and push past the critics. Their chutzpah was rewarded. The energy was infectious with 150 participants, ten teams and champions – 60% of those women – generating 10 ideas in 6 hours.

Was it perfect? No. Is that a problem? No. We know how to make the next one better.

Innovation is never perfect and neither is the current approach to policy design.

Innovation is agile, it’s iterative, it’s responsive and above all else, it’s nimble. It doesn’t stand still while ever there is a problem to be solved.

Compare this hack philosophy to the current approach to policy development. This requires the development of an evidence base (by the time it is gathered it is often out of date), it draws input from the usual suspects, often involves expensive reports from well-paid consultants, has to pass the front page Daily Telegraph test to avoid upsetting vested interests and frankly as a result, often fails.

Is it any wonder then that so many programs cost what they do and deliver so little to the end user they were meant to serve?

I am a firm believer in supporting initiatives that disrupt the status quo for the better and was blown away by how well PolicyHack turned out.

 PolicyHack was about demonstrating that there is a better way.

Champions 60% women

The Vision 

Assistant Minister Roy spoke about the need for us to be diligent in our expenditure of public funds and observed

“We are going to be fearless and embrace the future. Help shape the vision for how our country can be a hub for entrepreneurship and Innovation.”

Wyatt Roy, Assistant Minister, Innovation 

The Assistant Minister made it clear that PolicyHack was an experiment that allowed us to collaborate. He explained that this was the first of many PolicyHacks.

Assistant Minister Roy left no one wondering about his aim to encourage all members of the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem to leverage our capital and support government to deliver better outcomes for our society and economy.

Who won?

The winning pitches at PolicyHack were Erin Watson-Lynn’s Digital Innovation Creative Entrepreneurial Kids (DICEKids) an educational program for school children that prepares the next generation entrepreneurs and Nicola Hazel’s NEIS 2 Entrepreneur accelerator, in effect a revitalisation of the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme.

These are both simple to implement immediately and can create our new generation of entrepreneurs in a relatively short time frame without any significant hit to the budget.

A quick diversion – the NDIS

The last time I got excited about policy was the National Disability Insurance Scheme.  I worked for the NSW Minister for Ageing and Disability, the Hon. Andrew Constance MP and he, like Wyatt Roy, was enthusiastic for change and drove an innovation agenda.

We co-designed the policy with people with disability and their carers. Living Life My Way was a policy hack of sorts where government collaborated with service users and service providers. Where it didn’t meet expectations was that little actually happened after the ideas and exchange.

It ended up being a great big expensive exercise with good intentions but little change. A few years later the outcomes of the scheme remain underwhelming.

Last year in the AFR, Laura Tingle highlighted the frustration with the burgeoning costs of the NDIS trial sites growing out of control. We hear that bureaucrats are hiring more consultants, commissioning more reports and there are concerns about how a scheme of this magnitude will be managed out of State and Territory governments in the next year or so.

Let’s deliver outcomes

In my humble opinion, the current set of bureaucrats working on the NDIS need to meet Paul Shetler, CEO of the Digital Transformation Office (aka the PM’s Tsar) and his team as well as Pia Waugh of @AusGovCTO. They need to invite Paul and Pia to facilitate innovation dialogues to help the NDIS get back on track with the help of hackers from the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. Hackers who will apply their smarts and collaborate in order to solve this wicked problem without needing to spend any more money.

If anyone is listening we need to hack for disability to see how we can stretch existing budgets to extract more and deliver better outcomes for people with disabilities, their families and carers.

A similar idea was generated last year by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) and UTS called Enabled by Design a design-a-thon bringing together people with disabilities and designers to hack practical solutions for accessibility, usability and desirability. We have some incredible minds in the innovation space that have done much for health and disability – Prof Hung Nguyen and Dr Jordan Nguyen are transforming health technology with their engineering, artificial intelligence and tech driven focus.

 Delivering PolicyHack

StartUpAus will curate the content of the OurSay platform and the hack and Assistant Minister Roy and his office will deliver packaged outcomes and suggestions to relevant agencies for consideration and action. Policy Hack is a brilliant initiative and with a bit more notice and planning we can make an enormous impact on any big spend issues and, I believe, bring more efficiency and innovation to government.

The PolicyHack model presents a powerful method that can solve a lot of wicked problems for government. PolicyHack can be the darling of Expenditure Review Committees and razor gangs because it gets bureaucrats thinking outcomes not just process. It gets them collaborating to make change not compromises and it delivers breakthrough ideas that solve problems and create opportunities. Which as we know sits at the heart of good policy.

What next?

The challenge now is what happens next?  Craig Thomler says “the devil is in the delivery and while perfection should not be the enemy of trying, communication is key, transparency about the process, outcomes and community engagement is integral to the process.”

We haven’t nailed it yet. I think we need to invest some time in doing that. Coming together is the beginning. While we generated amazing ideas, I don’t know what will happen to these ideas post hack. Go to any of the hack sites and you see the promotion and maybe the winning ideas and teams but no further info beyond that.

My proposition

Here are four steps we can take to deliver an outcomes driven hack.

  1. Start with cross sector thought leadership groups to design the parameters and set the policy agenda.
  2. Align the right agencies (State and Commonwealth) with innovators in teams to co-design solutions.
  3. Set up a Post Hack Incubator so that the ideas can be further developed and piloted. These pilots must be supported both by government (through recalibrated funds and resources) and the innovation community.
  4. Keep talking to ensure all stakeholders remain engaged and informed by sharing the process, the results of implementation and the success or otherwise of outcomes.

We should be so lucky

I for one want to thank the Hon. Wyatt Roy, who, backed by the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Secretary Senator the Hon. Arthur Sinodinos AO, the Hon. Paul Fletcher MP Minister for Territories, Local Government and Major Projects and a growing number of Ministers, Members and Senators including  (Fiona Scott MP and David Coleman MP) our champions of change, have seen the constellation of government, corporate and the innovation community align.

We need to deliver outcomes from PolicyHack and develop an ongoing program of hacks for change because it is time that we did things differently and moved into a new paradigm where collaboration is key and where we get shit done, because our communities, economy and ultimately, our future depends on it. If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

Read more about the mechanics of PolicyHack in Gavin Heaton’s blog Wyatt Roy’s Policy Hack – A view from the inside.

Anne-Marie Elias is a speaker and consultant in innovation and disruption for social change. She is an honorary Associate of the Centre for Local Government at UTS.

Anne-Marie has recently joined the Board of the Australian Open Knowledge Foundation.

Follow Anne-Marie’s  journey of disruptive social innovation on Twitter @ChiefDisrupter or visit www.chiefdisrupter.com 

This blog was first published on LinkedIn Pulse on 18 October 2015  

Accelerating a data driven future

data

I’ve had a love – hate relationship with data all my life. I was never any good at Math, yet as a social change advocate data was my ally and best friend. I also became increasingly frustrated that despite collecting volumes of data across government and NGOs, we don’t really make the most of it.  We don’t plan ahead, share data or collaborate enough. We are seriously lagging behind in terms of embracing data and digital and creating the space for experimentation and innovation.

I grew to love data in a new way when I attended my first GovHack in 2014, I met Natalia (@natalieasis), a data scientist who made me realise that data is a symphony for those who can unravel it.

Natalia says “For a data scientist, data is alive. When you learn how to *talk* to it, you start seeing beyond Matrix-like rows of numbers and discover a whole new universe of truth and beauty.”

Natalia believes that data is a medium for discovering patterns, she says “Everything in the world has an underlying pattern, be it planetary movements, history, financial markets, or what fascinates me the most – human behaviour.” She believes that data scientists are the modern shaman who “should dedicate years and years of training to learn how to talk to beautiful powerful omniscient data ‘spirits’.” Natalia loves investigating and interrogating the data and finds it rewarding “you experience the pure joy of finding things out and understanding how the world works – and thus gaining wisdom.”

 So how do hackers make meaning out of data – how do they extract life out of numbers and how can we get a glimpse of what this means for government and community?

GovHack is probably the best demonstration of how data is our friend and how easy it is to innovate solutions – the annual weekend competition is all about making meaning out of the reams of data collected by every level of government every single day. It has a devoted following of people like Natalia who live for finding the patterns and meaning out of a bunch of numbers, as well as tech, start ups and entrepreneurs.

David Bartlett, former Premier of Tasmania MCd this years GovHack Awards in Sydney said “GovHack brings to life the abundant government data that sits in largely idle form.” Having worked across state and federal government I can attest to this, we don’t work with data very well. GovHack is the best vehicle to acclimatize government and NGOs to see better use of data. The 2015 competition attracted 160 volunteers supporting 2,200 partcipants, over 100 teams and 6000 data sets in 31 cities across Australia and NZ that generated over 300 projects in little more than 48 hours.

Goddess and founder of GovHack, Pia Waugh, spoke passionately at the Awards about this year’s “epic GovHack continuing to have a community feel, it’s not a corporate or government event, it’s led by volunteers and it’s the best hacker community in the world.” And she’s right it’s a community owned and volunteer run family that keeps growing and increasingly attracting attention from politicians.

PM Malcolm Turnbull gave his attention and sponsorship to GovHack as Communications Minister, The Hon. Senator Arthur Sinodinos spoke at the GovHack Awards and gave a powerful speech about what he saw in this rich and diverse hacker community (see video here), In NSW Ministers for Innovation and Small Business have attended local events. I am confident that in 2016 GovHack will continue to amaze and inspire more politicians and bureaucrats to join the growing community of champions, sponsors and hackers.   Pia Waugh rightly said “ Dominello and Sinodinis are trailblazers in government and represent a great hope for our democracy, of which GovHack is a very important part of the architecture.”

NSW Minister for Innovation, Victor Dominello was blown away at the ideas that solved community or government challenges at the Sydney GovHack awards. At the national awards he said,

 “NSW Government is backing you all the way. We need more than ever collaborate more with you, you are fearless, cautious risk takers, you are the ones who have the potential to change the world like no other time before. “

The Minister recently announced the establishment of a one stop shop for data, the Data Analytics Centre (DAC) will pull the data together across 144 different agencies,152 councils and state owned corporations.  He has ensured the DAC has the legislative power to pull the data together so that we can get things done around some big government costs.

The newly established Digital Transformation Office (DTO) is a great initiative established by Turnbull to bring the digital revolution to government. It will fast track and drive a culture of innovation through greater cross sector and discipline collaboration with emphasis on leveraging academia, open source, SMEs, private sector, design, tech and start up.

Pictured – Paul Shetler, DTO at the 2015 GovHack International Awards , Sydney

At the GovHack awards, Paul Shetler was bold and unapologetic about his agency’s responsibility to transform the face of public services to be more relevant and responsive to its users. He said “It is no accident that the DTO’s first public initiatives is its relationship with GovHack. You want to work on stuff that matters.”

GovHack is a safe place for agencies to learn by doing and dip their toe in the water of civic hacking, learn how to collaborate in bold new ways. Agencies should encourage their staff to get involved in GovHack.

Paul Shetler, Digital Transformation Office

I recently joined the Board of the Australian Open Knowledge Foundation and have the privilege to work alongside data experts and enthusiasts who care about citizen engagement and are leading events like GovHack and Health Hack, I am the sponsor of an incubation stage project HackforDV . Our goal is to collaborate with the peak agencies and users of DV services, government and hackers to co- design solutions.

I believe civic hacking is the future, a balance of crowd sourcing solutions , thought leadership conversations, solution driven and outcome focused collaborations are key. This will change the way we solve problems across finance, health, systems, sectors, services . You are welcome to join the experiment

Three tips to get more out of data and in to hacks

It seems the planets are aligning and the constellation (GovHack, the DAC and DTO, and initiatives like Open Knowledge Foundation and Code for Australia and others) is accelerating the opportunities to engage with the data driven future, that is ultimately inevitable.

Anne-Marie Elias is a speaker and consultant in innovation for social change. She is an honorary Associate of the Centre for Local Government at UTS.

Anne-Marie has recently joined the Board of the Australian Open Knowledge Foundation.

Follow Anne-Marie’s  journey of disruptive social innovation on Twitter @ChiefDisrupter or visit www.chiefdisrupter.com 

This blog was first published in LinkedIn Pulse published 10 October.

.

The Policy Hack Experiment

policyhack pano shot

PolicyHack happened – just like that!

It was the courage of a newly appointed Assistant Minister for Innovation the Hon. Wyatt Roy MP and his bold vision to hack for change that led to one of themost sought after event tickets in town.

The Policy Hack experiment was about challenging the way bureaucrats collaborate and encouraging them to engage with the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem to develop better policy and deliver better outcomes.

It was a brilliant exercise that demonstrated the capacity and appetite of entrepreneurs to come together with those from academia, corporates, capital, advisory firms, civil society and the tech and start-up sector to collaborate and develop innovative policy options for government.

PolicyHack had its fair share of critics. A number of blogs and articles appeared immediately prior to the event. They commented on the lack of planning and process, its haphazard development, its ‘exclusivity’ and the likelihood that it would produce no real outcomes in just one day.

In part they were right. However, in its defence, it was an experiment in innovation, pulled together quickly with no funds, a lot of goodwill, the generosity of a community and an enormous desire to show government that embracing the tools of innovation and entrepreneurship could deliver better outcomes. The Hack was well supported with mentors from Disruptors Handbook andPollenizer and many others.

It was very brave of the Hon. Wyatt Roy MP , BlueChilli andt StartUpAus to take this on and push past the critics. Their chutzpah was rewarded. The energy was infectious with 150 participants, ten teams and champions – 60% of those women- generating 10 ideas in 6 hours.

Was it perfect? No. Is that a problem? No. We know how to make the next one better. Innovation is never perfect and neither is the current approach to policy design.Innovation is agile, it’s iterative, it’s responsive and above all else, it’s nimble. It doesn’t stand still while ever there is a problem to be solved.

Compare this hack philosophy to the current approach to policy development. This requires the development of an evidence base (by the time it is gathered it is often out of date), it draws input from the usual suspects, often involves expensive reports from well-paid consultants, has to pass the front page Daily Telegraph test to avoid upsetting vested interests and frankly as a result, often fails.

Is it any wonder then that so many programs cost what they do and deliver so little to the end user they were meant to serve?

I am a firm believer in supporting initiatives that disrupt the status quo for the better and was blown away by how well PolicyHack turned out.  PolicyHack was about demonstrating that there is a better way.

CReLhpXUwAAX-aK The Vision

Assistant Minister Roy spoke about the need for us to be diligent in our expenditure of public funds and observed

“We are going to be fearless and embrace the future. Help shape the vision for how our country can be a hub for entrepreneurship and Innovation.”    Wyatt Roy, Assistant Minister, Innovation

The Assistant Minister made it clear that PolicyHack was an experiment that allowed us to collaborate. He explained that this was the first of many PolicyHacks. Assistant Minister Roy left no one wondering about his aim to encourage all members of the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem to leverage our capital and support government to deliver better outcomes for our society and economy.

Who won?

The winning pitches at PolicyHack were Erin Watson-Lynn’s Digital Innovation Creative Entrepreneurial Kids (DICEKids) an educational program for school children that prepares the next generation entrepreneurs and Nicola Hazel’s NEIS 2 Entrepreneur accelerator, in effect a revitalisation of the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme.

These are both simple to implement immediately and can create our new generation of entrepreneurs in a relatively short time frame without any significant hit to the budget.

 

A quick diversion – the NDIS

The last time I got excited about policy was the National Disability Insurance Scheme.  I worked for the NSW Minister for Ageing and Disability, the Hon. Andrew Constance MP and he, like Wyatt Roy, was enthusiastic for change and drove an innovation agenda.

We co-designed the policy with people with disability and their carers. Living Life My Way was a policy hack of sorts where government collaborated with service users and service providers. Where it didn’t meet expectations was that little actually happened after the ideas and exchange.

It ended up being a great big expensive exercise with good intentions but little change. A few years later the outcomes of the scheme remain underwhelming.

Last year in the AFR, Laura Tingle highlighted the frustration with the burgeoning costs of the NDIS trial sites growing out of control. We hear that bureaucrats are hiring more consultants, commissioning more reports and there are concerns about how a scheme of this magnitude will be managed out of State and Territory governments in the next year or so.

Let’s deliver outcomes

In my humble opinion, the current set of bureaucrats working on the NDIS need to meet Paul Shetler, CEO of the Digital Transformation Office (aka the PM’s Tsar) and his team as well as Pia Waugh of @AusGovCTO. They need to invite Paul and Pia to facilitate innovation dialogues to help the NDIS get back on track with the help of hackers from the innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. Hackers who will apply their smarts and collaborate in order to solve this wicked problem without needing to spend any more money.

If anyone is listening we need to hack for disability to see how we can stretch existing budgets to extract more and deliver better outcomes for people with disabilities, their families and carers.

A similar idea was generated last year by the Cerebral Palsy Alliance (CPA) andUTS called Enabled by Design a design-a-thon bringing together people with disabilities and designers to hack practical solutions for accessibility, usability and desirability. We have some incredible minds in the innovation space that have done much for health and disability – Prof Hung Nguyen and Dr Jordan Nguyen are transforming health technology with their engineering, artificial intelligence and tech driven focus.

Delivering PolicyHack

StartUpAus will curate the content of the OurSay platform and the hack and Assistant Minister Roy and his office will deliver packaged outcomes and suggestions to relevant agencies for consideration and action. Policy Hack is a brilliant initiative and with a bit more notice and planning we can make an enormous impact on any big spend issues and, I believe, bring more efficiency and innovation to government.

The PolicyHack model presents a powerful method that can solve a lot of wicked problems for government. PolicyHack can be the darling of Expenditure Review Committees and razor gangs because it gets bureaucrats thinking outcomes not just process. It gets them collaborating to make change not compromises and it delivers breakthrough ideas that solve problems and create opportunities. Which as we know sits at the heart of good policy.

What next?

The challenge now is what happens next?  Craig Thomler says “the devil is in the delivery and while perfection should not be the enemy of trying, communication is key, transparency about the process, outcomes and community engagement is integral to the process.”

We haven’t nailed it yet. I think we need to invest some time in doing that. Coming together is the beginning. While we generated amazing ideas, I don’t know what will happen to these ideas post hack. Go to any of the hack sites and you see the promotion and maybe the winning ideas and teams but no further info beyond that.

My proposition

Here are four steps we can take to deliver an outcomes driven hack.

  1. Start with cross sector thought leadership groups to design the parameters and set the policy agenda.
  2. Align the right agencies (State and Commonwealth) with innovators in teams to co-design solutions.
  3. Set up a Post Hack Incubator so that the ideas can be further developed and piloted. These pilots must be supported both by government (through recalibrated funds and resources) and the innovation community.
  4. Keep talking to ensure all stakeholders remain engaged and informed by sharing the process, the results of implementation and the success or otherwise of outcomes.

We should be so lucky

I for one want to thank the Hon. Wyatt Roy, who, backed by the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Secretary Senator the Hon. Arthur Sinodinos AO, the Hon. Paul Fletcher MP Minister for Territories, Local Government and Major Projects and a growing number of Ministers, Members and Senators including  (Fiona Scott MP and David Coleman MP) our champions of change, have seen the constellation of government, corporate and the innovation community align.

We need to deliver outcomes from PolicyHack and develop an ongoing program of hacks for change because it is time that we did things differently and moved into a new paradigm where collaboration is key and where we get shit done, because our communities, economy and ultimately, our future depends on it. If not us, then who? If not now, then when?

Read more about the mechanics of PolicyHack in Gavin Heaton’s blog Wyatt Roy’s Policy Hack – A view from the inside.

Anne-Marie Elias is a speaker and consultant in innovation and disruption for social change. She is an honorary Associate of the Centre for Local Government at UTS.

Anne-Marie has recently joined the Board of the Australian Open Knowledge Foundation.

Follow Anne-Marie’s  journey of disruptive social innovation on Twitter @ChiefDisrupter or visit www.chiefdisrupter.com

Accelerating a data driven future

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I’ve had a love – hate relationship with data all my life. I was never any good at Math, yet as a social change advocate data was my ally and best friend. I also became increasingly frustrated that despite collecting volumes of data across government and NGOs, we don’t really make the most of it.  We don’t plan ahead, share data or collaborate enough. We are seriously lagging behind in terms of embracing data and digital and creating the space for experimentation and innovation.

I grew to love data in a new way when I attended my first GovHack in 2014, I met Natalia (@natalieasis), a data scientist who made me realise that data is a symphony for those who can unravel it.

Natalia says “For a data scientist, data is alive. When you learn how to *talk* to it, you start seeing beyond Matrix-like rows of numbers and discover a whole new universe of truth and beauty.”

Natalia believes that data is a medium for discovering patterns, she says “Everything in the world has an underlying pattern, be it planetary movements, history, financial markets, or what fascinates me the most – human behaviour.” She believes that data scientists are the modern shaman who “should dedicate years and years of training to learn how to talk to beautiful powerful omniscient data ‘spirits’.” Natalia loves investigating and interrogating the data and finds it rewarding “you experience the pure joy of finding things out and understanding how the world works – and thus gaining wisdom.”

 So how do hackers make meaning out of data – how do they extract life out of numbers and how can we get a glimpse of what this means for government and community?

GovHack is probably the best demonstration of how data is our friend and how easy it is to innovate solutions – the annual weekend competition is all about making meaning out of the reams of data collected by every level of government every single day. It has a devoted following of people like Natalia who live for finding the patterns and meaning out of a bunch of numbers, as well as tech, start ups and entrepreneurs.

David Bartlett, former Premier of Tasmania MCd this years GovHack Awards in Sydney said “GovHack brings to life the abundant government data that sits in largely idle form.” Having worked across state and federal government I can attest to this, we don’t work with data very well. GovHack is the best vehicle to acclimatize government and NGOs to see better use of data. The 2015 competition attracted 160 volunteers supporting 2,200 partcipants, over 100 teams and 6000 data sets in 31 cities across Australia and NZ that generated over 300 projects in little more than 48 hours.

Goddess and founder of GovHack, Pia Waugh, spoke passionately at the Awards about this year’s “epic GovHack continuing to have a community feel, it’s not a corporate or government event, it’s led by volunteers and it’s the best hacker community in the world.” And she’s right it’s a community owned and volunteer run family that keeps growing and increasingly attracting attention from politicians.

PM Malcolm Turnbull gave his attention and sponsorship to GovHack as Communications Minister, The Hon. Senator Arthur Sinodinos spoke at the GovHack Awards and gave a powerful speech about what he saw in this rich and diverse hacker community (see video here), In NSW Ministers for Innovation and Small Business have attended local events. I am confident that in 2016 GovHack will continue to amaze and inspire more politicians and bureaucrats to join the growing community of champions, sponsors and hackers.   Pia Waugh rightly said “ Dominello and Sinodinis are trailblazers in government and represent a great hope for our democracy, of which GovHack is a very important part of the architecture.”

NSW Minister for Innovation, Victor Dominello was blown away at the ideas that solved community or government challenges at the Sydney GovHack awards. At the national awards he said,

 “NSW Government is backing you all the way. We need more than ever collaborate more with you, you are fearless, cautious risk takers, you are the ones who have the potential to change the world like no other time before. “

The Minister recently announced the establishment of a one stop shop for data, the Data Analytics Centre (DAC) will pull the data together across 144 different agencies,152 councils and state owned corporations.  He has ensured the DAC has the legislative power to pull the data together so that we can get things done around some big government costs.

The newly established Digital Transformation Office (DTO) is a great initiative established by Turnbull to bring the digital revolution to government. It will fast track and drive a culture of innovation through greater cross sector and discipline collaboration with emphasis on leveraging academia, open source, SMEs, private sector, design, tech and start up.

Pictured – Paul Shetler, DTO at the 2015 GovHack International Awards , Sydney

At the GovHack awards, Paul Shetler was bold and unapologetic about his agency’s responsibility to transform the face of public services to be more relevant and responsive to its users. He said “It is no accident that the DTO’s first public initiatives is its relationship with GovHack. You want to work on stuff that matters.”

GovHack is a safe place for agencies to learn by doing and dip their toe in the water of civic hacking, learn how to collaborate in bold new ways. Agencies should encourage their staff to get involved in GovHack.

Paul Shetler, Digital Transformation Office

I recently joined the Board of the Australian Open Knowledge Foundation and have the privilege to work alongside data experts and enthusiasts who care about citizen engagement and are leading events like GovHack and Health Hack, I am the sponsor of an incubation stage projectHackforDV . Our goal is to collaborate with the peak agencies and users of DV services, government and hackers to co- design solutions.

I believe civic hacking is the future, a balance of crowd sourcing solutions , thought leadership conversations, solution driven and outcome focused collaborations are key. This will change the way we solve problems across finance, health, systems, sectors, services . You are welcome to join the experiment

Three tips to get more out of data and in to hacks

It seems the planets are aligning and the constellation (GovHack, the DAC and DTO, and initiatives like Open Knowledge Foundation and Code for Australia and others) is accelerating the opportunities to engage with the data driven future, that is ultimately inevitable.

Anne-Marie Elias is a speaker and consultant in innovation for social change. She is an honorary Associate of the Centre for Local Government at UTS.

Anne-Marie has recently joined the Board of the Australian Open Knowledge Foundation.

Follow Anne-Marie’s  journey of disruptive social innovation on Twitter @ChiefDisrupter or visit www.chiefdisrupter.com 

This blog was first published in LinkedIn Pulse published 10 October.

The Age of Disruption is NOW

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This is an exciting time to be alive – we have unprecedented opportunities and developments presented before us in the age of disruption. Old structures are crumbling – the old paradigm of hierarchy, silo’s, status quo, control and power is being superseded by the new world order – collaboration, co-design, self determination and disruption.

Don’t take my word for it – in the last week these concepts have been firmly stated by none other than our new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull and my favorite Australian Senator and newly appointed Cabinet Secretary– Arthur Sinodinos AO.

In fact the Prime Minister’s new cabinet  signals 21st century thinking with innovation at the core. It is fresh, disruptive and recalibrates efforts towards science, the digital economy and startups.

The best example of what the PM’s talking about is GovHack – an annual competition that “brings together geeks, digital creatives, data analysts, story tellers, entrepreneurs and civic society enthusiasts to work together in teams over 46 Hours to explore, mash up, ideate and communicate concepts using open Government data.” GovHack brings to life the voluminous dormant government data that is dutifully collected by every agency across government but sits in largely locked bureaucratic vaults.

Senator Sinodinos attended the International GovHack Awards and made a compelling speech about the future as he sees it. Sinodinos is one of the most visionary people I have ever met. He gets innovation more than most. This is the man ran the longest serving Prime Minister’s Office (the Hon. John Howard) for over a decade with determination, open channels and purposeful intent. I admire his discipline and intellect and his capacity to be agile and adapt to the fast paced changes around him.

I met the Senator in 2011 where he came to address the hundreds of new staffers in the O’Farrell Government to help us get our heads around transition to government (after 16 years in opposition there wasn’t a lot of expertise in running government). He taught us how to support our Ministers and how to manage the natural tensions between Ministerial offices and the bureaucracy. He taught us to lead and to be responsive.

So it was natural for to me to bring him into GovHack as a champion – I knew he would be curious and cautious and that his impressions would make a world of difference in showing his parliamentary colleagues and government the enormous benefits of this initiative.

For Sinodinos, GovHack was a spectacular display of passion and commitment, he said “this initiative is something anyone from all sides of politics should be supporting 110%…Not all wisdom resides in government and increasingly government is realising that IT has democratised the distribution of knowledge and power and that the wisdom of the crowd will give the solution to intractable social and economic problems.” 

Dead right – I have seen it in all my travels across the hackathon ecosystem – weekend after weekend – a devoted bunch of geeks follow the hackathon trail to contribute their time, talent and skills to solve wicked problems – social and local. They congregate in start up hubs, and co-working spaces and what they produce is spectacular.

More importantly Sinodinos also recognises that old world structures are gone no longer as useful as they once were– he said “ This idea the old world – top down, command and control, working in silos to solve these things is gone. Now you get people with diverse experiences in a room kicking ideas and that’s how you get things done. Too often in Government spend billions on building something from scratch  – how much more effective would it be to get    a group of creative people together at the start to look at what can be developed from what is there already, scaled up, getting a result.”

Sinodinos saw, in one night,  that GovHack “represents the interactive, democratic the way of the future, the workplace of the future will not be too hierarchical, it will be collaborative and diverse, innovation is the way of the future –its great to meet people leading edge of ideas and innovation.”

” You are insurgents, you are changing the culture in which government operates and the role of politicians is to promote that insurgency , all strength to your arm.”       The Hon. Senator Arthur Sinodinos 

He also went one step further and sent a clear message to government “You have permission to fail, its not always about being risk averse, you (GovHackers) are insurgents, you are changing the culture in which government operates and the role of politicians is to promote that insurgency , all strength to your arm.”

Can you believe this? I can. Sinodinos is a futurist and a pragmatist. He understands the importance of being frank, fearless and courageous. He is no doubt our ally and friend, and that is very comforting.

” We have to recognise that disruption… is our friend if we are agile and smart enough to take advantage of it.”                                    The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull,  Prime Minister of Australia.          

Sinodinos is not alone , the Hon. Malcom Turnbull, 29th Prime Minister of Australia fronted media after being elected as Liberal leader this week and said that his government  “will be focused on ensuring that as the world becomes more competitive and greater opportunities arise, we are able to take advantage of that. Australia as a nation has to be agile , innovative, creative, we cannot be defensive and future proof ourselves. We have to recognize that disruption driven by tech , the volatility and change , is our friend if we are agile and smart enough to take advantage of it.”

Turnbull would know – he was at the forefront of the digital revolution with his early investments in tech and continues to be a friend of disruption and technology. He established the Digital Transformation Office (DTO) in Canberra and launched it with an agile, lean crack team of the brightest minds led by Paul Shetler. The DTO has whole of government responsibility petite and it was no accident that its first public initiative was GovHack. Paul Shetler says DTO will“drive a culture collaboration across sectors, open source community, academia, start up scene , SME, public and private sectors. We will deliver quickly, iterate wildly and get a viable product.” Paul recognizes that GovHack is a “safe place for agencies to learn by doing and dip their toe in the water of civic hacking, learn how to collaborate in bold new ways.”

The PM has seen the cumbersome legacy processes of government that were designed for another time and I believe he will bring about a new culture across government and parliament, with a little help from Sinodinos and others who understand that this is the future.

The Prime Minister was right when he said  “ There has never been a more exciting time to be alive than today, and never been a more exciting time to be Australian. We will ensure that all Australians that their government  recognizes the opportunities of the future and are putting in place the policies and the plans to enable them to take advantage of it.”

I know the PM and his new Cabinet, announced this week, will hold on to this vision and start shifting the bureaucracy towards new heights of disruption. To do it better, faster, leaner and more innovatively for the people of Australia.

Anne-Marie Elias is a consultant in innovation for social change. She is an honorary Associate of the Centre for Local Government at UTS.

Follow Anne-Marie’s  journey of disruptive social innovation on Twitter @ChiefDisrupter or visit her websitewww.chiefdisrupter.com