So my post about whether local government needs skunk works got quite a reaction both in the comments and on Twitter, so it’s obviously something people are interested in discussing.
How can we move the debate forward?
Let me sketch some ideas on how it might work – feel free to comment, criticise, abuse me in the comments. I’m genuinely making this up as I go along.
1. A local government skunkworks would best operate on a networked basis – a loose central organisation of more localised groups. That way you keep small groups concentrating on local issues but sharing is still possible.
2. Due to the nature of local service delivery and related issues, it would need to be run on open innovation lines, so that people who aren;t local government officers can still get involved, eg other public services, those in the civil sector, universities (thanks Rupert in the comments) and the private sector.
3. Skunkworks operate best with specific projects to work on. Some method of identifying projects would be needed.
4. Is there a need for some kind of ownership by the local council, or at least a body responsible for service delivery? No point having an active skunk works if nothing ever actually happens!
5. Depending on the project, financing is going to be needed at some point. Where would that come from in this model?
6. Involvement of local residents will be vital – they ought to be able to join teams where they have value to add, and be kept up to date with progress and be able to comment (added thanks to Harry in the comments).
7. This isn’t just about IT or the web – it’s about any kind of innovation. Though tech likely to play a role in many innovations (added thanks to Harry in the comments).
8. Skunkworks is probably a terrible name and something friendlier is undoubtably needed (from comments on the Twitters by @anthonyzach and @dominiccampbell).
Have I got anything badly wrong? What have I missed out?