Why break down the silos when you can blow up them up: Alexander Lau to speak at Darwin conference

Emeritous Professor Geoff Gallop AC FIPAA will deliver the 2019 Reid Oration

Mr Alexander Lau — Principal Design Lead (Innovation Lab), Singapore

If anyone has answers on how the public service can break down bureaucratic silos it’s Singapore design professional Mr Alexander Lau.

Mr Lau has more than 25 years’ experience in design and has been undertaking ground-breaking work for the Innovation Lab within the Public Sector Transformation Cluster, Public Service Division, Prime Ministers Office, Singapore.

In his address to the Australian Public Service on Monday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, said the APS needed to be “an exemplar of innovation and adaptability” and called out the need for disruption and cultural change to break down “the bureaucratic silos and hierarchies that constrain our capacity to fix problems”.

As the Prime Minister noted, it’s easier to say that bureaucratic silos need to be broken down than to do it: “We’ve only had this problem in the public service for 118 years.”

Public servants from across Australia will have the opportunity to learn from the best silo buster in the business when Mr Lau gives a keynote address at the 2019 IPAA National Conference in Darwin on 26 September 2019.

Mr Lau will draw on his recent experience in project design and delivery at the Singapore Pubic Service Division including Moments of Life (Families) — a project which used ethnographic studies to understand the needs of parents with children aged 0–6 years, generating insights and design principles to guide an app design, creating citizen narratives to help a 15-agency committee align on common goals for the citizen, and facilitating a 4-agency Business Process Re-engineering to align their process to the new app.

In a recent article, Innovating Singapore: One lab’s journey to change government for good, Mr Lau said that “demystifying innovation tools and partnering agencies to walk their innovation journeys made innovation go viral in Singapore’s Public Service.”

Mr Lau describes how Innovation Lab was given a mandate to build an empathetic Public Service that puts citizens at the centre of all policy making setting the tone for their “do first, apologise later” DNA  which he said is “a critical innovation mindset needed to challenge public service culture.”

Another recent project where Mr Lau has been instrumental is War on Diabetes — a project which provided ethnographic studies training for a Ministry of Health/Health Promotion Board to uncover insights and design principles and facilitated a series of co-creation sessions to generate ideas from health cluster professionals, patients and care-givers for a Patient Empowerment for Self-care Framework.

A third project which has quite a different focus is  Model Warehouse — a project where a multi-agency team from Economic Development Board, Infocomm Media Development Agency and Jurong Town Corporation was coached to explore the needs of the logistic sector and align the value proposition of the Industry Transformation Map Model Warehouse concept.

Mr Lau is an internationally renowned speaker and may just have the answers on how the public service can blow up the silos.

More information on the 2019 IPAA National Conference