A guest post for GovCampAU by Alex Roberts, Innovation Advocate, Department of Industry and Science

It’s that time of year – Innovation Month! And this year we have a new addition – the GovCamp Innovation Dialogues series of events around the country.

Public sector innovation always makes me think of one of my favourite sayings:

“Show me a completely smooth operation and I’ll show you someone who’s covering mistakes. Real boats rock.”[1]

For me it encapsulates a great truth of bureaucracy – there will always be mistakes and there will always be the unexpected. No matter how good an organisation is, or the people within it, there will always be waves that rock the boat.

The quote also sums up innovation. Innovation isn’t smooth. It isn’t predictable. (It can even make you feel a bit ill at times…) If a project is a completely smooth operation then, very likely, it isn’t actually innovative.

In a fast changing world, innovation is often a necessary part of the voyage of getting where you want to go. Doing the same thing, or just improving on what was done before, often won’t get you the result that you need. Increasingly, you need to try something different.

And for me that’s what Innovation Month is about. Challenging ourselves to think about what might need to be done differently and how we are going to go about it. Being willing to consider new ideas and insights. Opening ourselves up to the risks and uncertainties of trying something new.

Of course, just because something is new, doesn’t mean you can’t learn from what’s gone before or the experiences of others – indeed, it’s more important that you should. Connecting with others can help keep the rocking to a manageable level, and reduce the chance of upsets.

That’s why this year’s GovCamp Australia Innovation Dialogues events are important.

This national series of events will help connect different levels of government and interested others and help inform a national perspective about the issues, challenges, lessons and successes involved in achieving better outcomes for the public sector.

I’m looking forward to attending the Canberra event on 22 July to hear from others about their experiences with innovation in the public sector at the local level.

But I also want to better appreciate the picture in other cities. That’s why I’m really looking forward to the national roundup on 31 July when, along with senior APS representatives, I’ll get to hear feedback from each of the city Dialogue events and hopefully get to meet some of the other public sector innovators from around Australia attending the end-of-Month forum.

So if you’d like to help (gently?) rock the public sector boat, then I hope you can make it along to the Innovation Dialogue event in your state’s capital city.

(Please note: the Department of Industry and Science is a major sponsor of the Innovation Month 2015 GovCamp Dialogues.)

[1] Frank Herbert, 1985, Chapterhouse: Dune