Government innovation thrives when organisations create the right conditions for people to offer fresh thinking, take risks and move forward with the most promising ideas. Accenture captures those aspects of innovation in the Absorption pillar of our framework. We surveyed government professionals in 10 countries to assess how well agencies are managing absorption.

We found positive indications that government organisational cultures are broadly supportive and open to more innovation. About half reported that:

  • There is space for risk taking (47 percent).
  • Collaboration happens across department divisions and there are minimal siloes (54 percent).
  • The agency is “flat” (49 percent).
  • Skill sets in their workforce are diverse and open to thinking differently (54 percent).
  • Their agency is already displaying strong interaction with the broader ecosystem and a readiness to influence—and be influenced by—third parties (49 percent).
  • Risk taking is moderately supported (49 percent), with risk takers highly regarded within the organisation (42 percent).

RELATED: Unleashing innovation: A closer look at absorption

Follow the government innovation leaders for absorption

While there is no comparative data from a previous survey, these first-time results are encouraging. They defy the “conventional wisdom” about governments being stuck in their routines and not open to change. In fact, our analysis suggests that the best way to bring along the culture is simply by “doing innovation.”

Focus on the core processes—especially those within the execution and impact and benefits pillars. Don’t assume it’s necessary to “fix” the culture in order to get started. Instead, get the innovation process in place and start delivering results. We believe the culture will come along.

We also discovered that a culture supportive of government innovation seems to be indicated by specific practices evident in most agencies surveyed. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) reported that risk-mitigation systems or mechanisms are in place to manage risks that might arise from innovation tests and implementation. An additional 19 percent say they are considering putting such mechanisms in place. Even more (79 percent) reported that their agency has funding dedicated to innovation, with an additional 10 percent considering that approach.

Beyond that, agencies foster innovative cultures through clear communications about why ideas are being selected and tested. More than half (54 percent) report using detailed, objective criteria for ranking and choosing projects, and they work to keep their innovation project portfolio aligned with strategic objectives.

Forty percent of agencies report providing “clear and transparent communication” on how ideas are selected “to a great extent.” Another 57 percent report such communication “to a certain extent.”

Edmund Gardner

Managing Director – Health and Public Service​


Mark Howard

Segment Lead – Global Administration

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