Alexander Lau: some lessons from Singapore in building public service innovation

Professor Peter Shergold AC announces the 2019 Sam Richardson Award winners

Mr Alexander Lau from the Singapore Government’s Innovation Lab shares his insights with public administrators in Darwin

Mr Alexander Lau delivered an inspiring keynote address on building innovation into public services at the 2019 IPAA National Conference ‘Crossroads > Future Directions’ held in Darwin last month.

Mr Lau — the Principal Design Lead with the Singapore Government’s Innovation Lab — unpacked some recent successes to innovating service delivery in the Singapore Public Service, and highlighted some of the unexpected lessons they had learned from stress testing low cost prototypes before scaling up.

Mr Lau explained that the focus of the Public Service Innovation Lab has been on transformation at the whole of government, agency and individual levels, with an emphasis on building innovation mindsets.

Mr Lau illustrated Singapore’s approach to innovation processes with the Pioneer Generation Package (an initiative of the Department of Health to honour Singapore’s senior citizens), and through Moments of Life — Families (an initiative of 15 different agencies to make life easier for citizens at different stages of life).

Central to Singapore’s innovation success in service delivery has been a focus on the intended outcome — not on the particular innovation tools at play — and on making business processes as easy as possible for public servants to understand.

The big question Mr Lau left his audience was ‘How do we make innovation viral… to work across government?’.

He may already have worked out part of the answer from a Singaporean perspective: “We don’t work as consultants; we work as coaches”.

The video of Mr Alexander Lau’s keynote address is now available which includes a Q&A session with conference delegates.