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Practical Innovation in Government

How Front-Line Leaders Are Transforming Public-Sector Organizations


Whether people want more government or less, everyone wants an efficient government. Traditional thinking is that this requires a government to be run more like a business. But a government is not a business, and this approach merely replaces old problems with new ones.

In their six-year, five-country study of seventy-seven government organizations Dean Schroeder and Alan Robinson found that the predominant private-sector approaches to improvement don’t work well in the public sector, while practices that are rare in the private sector prove highly effective. Practical Innovation in Government shows what work, what doesn’t, and why when it comes to high performance in government operations. And the lessons drawn from the study are just as relevant to private sector leaders when it comes to making your corner of an organization amazingly effective.

"Robinson and Schroeder have written one of the most important books in decades on improving government performance. A must-read for leaders at all levels who want to make their organizations better, faster, and stronger."

Michael Hancock, Mayor of the City of Denver

“Robinson and Schroeder do a phenomenal job of highlighting what is needed to achieve the operational innovations that governments across the nation need to solve pressing issues. Fixing everything from the simplest of bureaucratic bumbles to those complex issues that require data scientists, they clearly articulate and lay a roadmap for any government manager interested in building a motivated team that consistently produces positive results.”

Ben Henderson -- Director of Operations and Cabinet Affairs in the Executive Office of the Governor of Colorado


Unlocking the Power in Bottom-Up Ideas


In The Idea-Driven Organization, Robinson and Schroeder argue that the employees who interact directly with your customers, make your products, and provide your services, are in the best position to see where problems exist and what improvements and new offerings would have the most impact.

Drawing on their work with companies worldwide, they show what’s needed to put together a management team open to grassroots innovation; describing the strategies, policies, and practices that encourage – and those that discourage – employee ideas.

Discover exactly how high-performing idea processes work and how to design one customized for your organization – including advice for teaching people how to come up with new ideas. The best ideas may come from the bottom, but they have to be systematically solicited from the top.

“The Idea-Driven Organization is so reasonable that the magnitude of its change message is easy to miss. The richness of the examples from all over the world make it fun to read, and the authors convincingly demonstrate the power of incorporating front-line thinking into your organization.”

Marshall Goldsmith, New York Time best-selling author of Mojo and What got you Here Won’t Get You There

“Robinson and Schroeder have written a manifesto that might very well spark a revolution. They show us how the ideas generated by the knowledge and creativity of front-line employees can help any organization, large or small, public or private, become more efficient, more productive, amore innovation. I say let the revolution begin.”

Stan Rosenberg, former President of the Massachusetts Senate


How the Idea Revolution is Liberating People and Transforming Organizations


A worker in one of Europe’s largest wireless communication companies showed his manager how to repair an error that was costing the company $30 million per year. A secretary at Grapevine Canyon Ranch proposed a simple change to pull the company’s website to the top of search engines.

These are just two of many examples in Ideas Are Free that highlight the single best resource in a company – those front-line employees who can see those telling little details that escape managers.

Based on extensive research with hundreds of companies around the world and in every major field, this practical book shows how to draw the most useful ideas from front-line employees and, in the process, significantly improve the atmosphere–and success quotient–of any organization.

“Ideas Are Free [is] a clear and concise prescription for turning an organization into an idea machine … it will inspire any manager who believes, as I do, that only the innovative thrive!”

Jeff Taylor, Founder and Chief Monster, Monster.com

“Ideas Are Free is a refreshingly insightful book that managers at all levels should read. It spells out how to take advantage of your most valuable asset – the combined intellectual capital of all of your people.”

Donald V. Fites, Former Chairman and CEO, Caterpillar, Inc.



Knowing how to promote and manage large amounts of ideas from their employees is essential to become a successful manager and leader. An average Swedish company gets only one idea per employee every two years. The best organizations in Sweden and the world get – and use – more than 50 ideas per person per year. It is not surprising that these companies perform better than their competitors.

Based on an in depth study of over 40 Swedish organizations, supplemented by the authors’ research in hundreds of companies worldwide, this book shows what it takes to set up and manage improvement processes. The book is aimed at managers and leaders at all levels in all types of businesses that are interested in improving performance and competitiveness by taking advantage of the power of everyone’s ideas.


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