Do we need skunkworks in local government?

Simon Dickson has been doing his best to keep us up to date with the government skunkworks, the project to form a tight group of innovators in central government to work on new ideas.

If you’re new to the idea of a skunkworks, here’s the Wikipedia page. Basically, a skunkworks

is widely used in business, engineering, and technical fields to describe a group within an organisation given a high degree of autonomy and unhampered by bureaucracy, tasked with working on advanced or secret projects.

Steph also recently posted a couple of interviews with two public sector skunkworks style outfits, which is well worth a read.

This got me thinking: does local government need something similar? If it does, should it be a central body, or perhaps something that individual councils should have? Maybe it could be a shared service between groups of councils.

I’d be really interested in what people think.

I do wonder where innovation fits in to local government this year. After all, theoretically, it ought to be a time when organisations try new things and new ways of working to improve efficiency and reduce costs. However as Ingrid alluded to in her recent post, retrenchment might be more likely.

A quick reminder about the brilliant Little Innovation Book by James Gardner that you can read for free online and is a great primer on innovation matters.