The Innovation Journal: The Public Sector Innovation Journal, 7(2), 2002, article 11.


Engineering Innovation: Some Useful Techniques (PDF)


Presentation to the Innovation Salon
March 18, 2002

Doug Hull,
Canarie, Inc.
March, 2002



  • What:
    • An idea generating a substantial improvement
    • A strategic tool for competitive advantage
    • A potentially disruptive and costly venture
    • A fun and motivating experience
  • Why:
    • Crucial to quality, productivity and competitiveness
    • Due to costs, needs to be engineered where needed

SchoolNet: An Innovative Experience

  • Context:
    • Drive learning performance for innovation & productivity
    • Limited success with various tools: eg., scholarships
    • Then came the Internet: powerful, magnetic and insidious
    • Small trials prove the SchoolNet concept; soft launch
    • Consensus built at working level across all stakeholders
    • Grew project goal to include “all schools by 2000”
    • Few schools connected by feds; worked to remove barriers
    • By 2001 Canada a world leader in internet skills/creativity

Steps to Engineered Innovation

  • A Clear Strategic Vision to Frame Hunt for Innovations
  • An Ever-Open Door to New Ideas; 5% Budget Reserve
  • Spot Your Partner’s Innovations and Promote Them
  • Select Innovations Generating Multiple Solutions
  • Harness Wisdom of Seniors and Energy of Youth
  • Fly Below the Radar Screen: Many Small Pilots
  • Market and Diffuse Innovations across the System
  • Reflect and Share the Glory on Partners/Champions
  • Recognize and Create Pride in Well-Implemented Ideas
  • Measure the Impact and Shut Down Old Innovations

Why Public Service Innovation is Declining

  • Accountability System is Unbalanced without an Explicit Risk Policy
  • Control Centres striving to Eliminate Failure; Innovation is Risky
  • Post HRDC, Control Centres are dominating Operating Managers
  • Few Career Gains for PS Innovators, only Risks
  • An Aging Hierarchy is Dampening Youthful Creativity
  • Constitutional Constipation: Action is at the Community Level


A sound recording of this presentation is available for your listening pleasure.


Published June 06 2004

Revised November 2009

Last updated: March 17 2014