“After 16 years of experience in the public sector I was considering taking early retirement. But after going through this programme I feel like I now have the right tools to make the changes I’ve always wanted to make.” Sentiments shared by a participant from the Eastern Provincial Council.
The ‘Foresight & Innovation for #NextGenGov Champions’ programme trained 60 selected public sector officials in Sri Lanka, along with several international participants, on implementing creative solutions to complex challenges. Public officials face unique challenges when making changes within their traditional systems of work, but have to tackle increasingly complex problems that do not respond to traditional solutions. Recognizing this, the #NextGenGov Champions programme included practical tools officials could use to identify issues and implement creative solutions.
The programme is co-developed as a joint initiative between Citra Social Innovation Lab, the Presidential Secretariat, the Ministry of Public Administration, and the Sri Lanka Institute of Development Administration (SLIDA).
Apart from experiential learning the programme also brought in leaders and change makers to share their insights on doing things differently within existing systems in Sri Lanka. These included the Minister of Digital Infrastructure and Information Technology, Hon. Ajith Perera, Minister of Economic Reform and Public Distribution, Dr. Harsha de Silva, the Canadian High Commissioner, H.E. David McKinnon, Chairman of the Election Commission, Mr. Mahinda Deshapriya, Secretary of the Ministry of City Planning, Water Supply and Higher Education, Mr. Priyantha Mayadunne, Chairman of the Public Service Commission, Mr. Dharmasena Dissanayake, Chairman of the Information and Communication Technology Agency, Prof. Rohan Samarajiva, First Secretary of Development & Cooperation of the Australian High Commission for Sri Lanka and Maldives, Dr. Tom Davis, Director General of the National Science Foundation, Prof. Ananda Jayawardane, General Secretary of Sarvodaya Sri Lanka, Dr. Vinya Ariyaratne, Director of Economic Research for the Central Bank, Dr. Yuthika Indraratne and the Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank, Dr. W. A. Wijewardena, among others.
The 5-day residential workshops also offered participants the chance to learn from each other and join a supportive network of innovation champions spanning over 35 public institutions in Sri Lanka and beyond.
At the end of the workshop participants used foresight and innovation tools to develop an action plan to tackle an ongoing issue within their current portfolios. An in-depth mentorship programme will support participants as they implement their plans and take the innovation agenda forward in their work. The #NextGenGov Champions will then reconvene later in the year for a 2-day Recap Session to report back on their experiences. The officials will also be duly recognized for their perseverance through an awards ceremony for creating lasting impact from within the public sector.
Citra Social Innovation Lab, together with its partners, will continue to work closely with this network of innovation champions to ensure a sustained, long-term integration of foresight and innovation for public sector excellence in Sri Lanka.