A Guide to Making Innovation Offices Work

New report by Rachel Burstein and Alissa Black for the IBM Center  for The Business of Government: “In this report, Burstein and Black examine the recent trend toward the creation of innovation offices across the nation at all levels of government to understand the structural models now being used to stimulate innovation—both internally within an agency, and externally for the agency’s partners and communities. Based on research into a broad range of federal, state, and local innovation offices, the authors identify six different models for how an innovation office can operate:
  • Laboratory
  • Facilitator
  • Advisor
  • Technology build-out
  • Liaison
  • Sponsored offices

Burstein and Black then present examples of each of these structural models.
In addition to describing models for innovation offices, the authors identify issues that government leaders should consider in their decision to create a new innovation office, along with critical success factors for building and sustaining effective innovation offices. The authors emphasize that government leaders should not make the decision to set up an innovation office lightly, and should not create an innovation office for symbolic reasons. Rather, moving forward with setting up a center of gravity for innovation should follow a careful assessment of the mission of the new office, financial resources available, and support from key partners.
This report continues the IBM Center’s long interest in the subject of innovation. The creation of dedicated offices adds a new tool to government in stimulating innovation. Previous IBM Center reports have examined other tools in government’s innovation portfolio, for example:

We hope that government leaders interested in innovation at the federal, state, and local levels will find the models and success factors described in this report helpful as they consider future innovation initiatives or expand upon current innovation activities.”