McClure: How to succeed (and fail) at innovation

The zeitgeist that leads to periods of innovation waxes and wanes, and it’s not necessarily tied to any president or external factors, says Dave McClure, associate administrator of GSA's Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies.

Innovation is on the rise, and the tangible results are easy to see, said McClure, the luncheon keynote speaker at the Management of Change conference sponsored by American Council for Technology-Industry Advisory Council.

"Some of the engagement platforms [such as Data.gov] that have been created are just revolutionary," he said.

In the interest of accelerating innovation, GSA and the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy are considering launching a website, innovation.gov, for the crowdsourcing of new ideas, he said.

Should they decide to launch the portal, McClure would still advise agencies to keep their innovation efforts low-key. "Do it without all the eyes and ears and expectation on you," he said. And do it with a focus on small, immediate needs, he added. "I think large-scale innovation is interesting, but it's the least successful."

Another common pitfall is misunderstanding what innovation is. Technology "becomes the focal point of innovation discussions, when it reality a lot of it is how we deal with people and how we deal with process," he said.

Borrowing a phrase from GSA Administrator Martha Johnson, McClure said his operating ethos is "fail big." It's OK to try for something ambitious and fail, but only if the failure leads to insight that contributes to later success, he said.

About the Author

Technology journalist Michael Hardy is a former FCW editor.

FCW in Print

In the latest issue: Looking back on three decades of big stories in federal IT.

Featured

  • Anne Rung -- Commerce Department Photo

    Exit interview with Anne Rung

    The government's departing top acquisition official said she leaves behind a solid foundation on which to build more effective and efficient federal IT.

  • Charles Phalen

    Administration appoints first head of NBIB

    The National Background Investigations Bureau announced the appointment of its first director as the agency prepares to take over processing government background checks.

  • Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)

    Senator: Rigid hiring process pushes millennials from federal work

    Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.) said agencies are missing out on younger workers because of the government's rigidity, particularly its protracted hiring process.

  • FCW @ 30 GPS

    FCW @ 30

    Since 1987, FCW has covered it all -- the major contracts, the disruptive technologies, the picayune scandals and the many, many people who make federal IT function. Here's a look back at six of the most significant stories.

  • Shutterstock image.

    A 'minibus' appropriations package could be in the cards

    A short-term funding bill is expected by Sept. 30 to keep the federal government operating through early December, but after that the options get more complicated.

  • Defense Secretary Ash Carter speaks at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco

    DOD launches new tech hub in Austin

    The DOD is opening a new Defense Innovation Unit Experimental office in Austin, Texas, while Congress debates legislation that could defund DIUx.

Reader comments

Wed, May 18, 2011 Nancy Faget Washington DC

Innovation.Gov would be such a great resourc! How can the federal library community help make it possible so we can crowdsource good ideas?

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above

More from 1105 Public Sector Media Group