360IT: DWP drives innovation with internal 'Ideas Street'

During a keynote discussion at 360IT infrastructure event at Earl’s Court today, James Gardner, CTO for the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) talked about the department’s “ideas street” to encourage innovation.

Talking of a “near death experience” for government departments as funding dries up, Gardner says the DWP is looking to find new ways of doing things through innovation.

The ‘ideas street’ works as a virtual stockmarket for new ideas suggested by civil servants within the organisation. It even has its own currency – DWPs.

It allows staff to suggest ideas, which are sifted and evaluated by other members of staff, who can vote for the best one.

“The crowd is not often wrong,” says Gardner at the ‘Innovating With IT – Building for the Future’ panel discussion.

Gardner believes the ‘ideas street’ allows front line staff to make innovative suggestions about how to improve the department, ideas that address problems the centralised control centre don’t know how to improve in detail.

The DWP are also conducting experiments surrounding a “citizen-centric ideas street”. Gardner says the challenge is this is ensuring that citizens’ suggestions are used in a valuable way.