Innovation in Unexpected Places

I was amazed – and pleased –  to read in the Economist (September 22, 2012) that some local councils in the UK “are furiously innovating”. I was not aware that the words “innovating” and “councils” could appear in the same sentence (let alone “furiously”). “Facing deep cuts to their budgets, the best local authorities have radically rethought how they ought to serve the people who elect them”. Fantastic! How many examples of this do we have here in Israel? I’m sure there are some…eg I know of some in the Galil. Lets highlight them, whether they are from the local government level or the national level, and promote them – as a catalyst – let’s act to initiate, implement and multiply such initiatives all over Israel.

Budget cuts are a fact of life here in Israel. But the first and usually only reaction by the budgeted authority is to cut services – straight away. I recently received a letter from my own regional council (Brenner) stating that they would do this. Not even one word was said about streamlining, efficiency or – heaven forbid – innovation!

How refreshing to read about an example we can emulate from the UK. I read that “councils are outsourcing services at a terrific clip. In west London, three have partially merged, slimming the ranks of bureaucrats and jointly managing services”. Correct me if I’m wrong – from memory, the most recent attempt to merge local authorities in Israel was prematurely and abruptly aborted.

The Economist continues “Britain’s local governments have already achieved something remarkable: they have maintained their approval ratings while coping with cuts in central funding of an astonishing 28% over five years”.

We in Israel face very tough budget challenges, necessitating public budget cuts all over the place. Lets pull up our sleeves and get to work, finding innovative new ways to deliver the quality services people need, within the reduced budgets. The UK model can provide guidance and inspiration in this challenging task.

About the Author
Naftali Moser works with organizations in the innovation eco-system in Israel and internationally. He writes surveys and advises organizations on their plans. He is an activist in Israeli non-profits and a keen observer of global trends. Born and educated in Australia, Naftali made aliya in 1974.