I’m quite fortunate in that I get to meet a lot of people involved in a lot of different areas surrounding innovation and entrepreneurship. One of the more interesting meetings I’ve had lately was with the City of Melbourne (CoM) and thought I’d share some of what was discussed (with their permission of course!).
What surprised me:
Going into this meeting I thought that we would be meeting a couple of your typical bureaucrats but I was very quickly proven wrong.
My first surprise arrived when I walked into the CIO’s office and saw a copy of The Lean Start-Up on his desk. Hmmm – good start…
The second surprise was the language used by the Innovation Coordinator and CIO throughout the meeting. It was immediately apparent that they knew their stuff: co-working spaces, big data, TechShop (this could get exciting for Melbourne by the way…) and more. These guys have not only been to the co-working spaces, spoken with entrepreneurs and read the literature but also started programs within their organisation to increase innovation. They have a quasi-co-working space for their staff to use when working on new projects – the island of freedom. The kicker was when the Innovation Coordinator mentioned that he was sick of the term “lean” given its overuse!
Finally, the most impressive element of this meeting was the innovative approach that the CoM is taking to addressing issues facing their constituents. The CIO mentioned that is was no longer appropriate for the CoM to define the problems facing their citizens. They’d done this before and wasted time, money and resources providing a solution nobody wanted. Sound familiar?
He acknowledged that they had failed previously and they were changing course. The CoM is now approaching constituents and asking them to clearly define specific issues and possible solutions. They had realised that the conversation was changing and they needed to speak to more of their customers (constituents?). They got out of the office!
It would have been nice if the Victorian government had adopted a similar approach with myki… I digress.
Anyway, onwards to what the City of Melbourne is trying to do:
It was very clear from speaking to the CoM that they are trying to accomplish two things:
- Keep Melbourne as an amazing place to live.
- Make Melbourne a city at the forefront of innovation.
(Quick note here: Melbourne was ranked #1 in the EIU’s Livability Ranking and Overview for 2012 and #2 in Monocle’s Quality of Life Survey for 2013 – these are both overseas publications).
Interestingly they stated that if Melbourne was to stay a great place to live it needed to be at the forefront of innovation; they go hand-in-hand. Our ranking as a city in which to live would slide down if we didn’t make use of technology in innovative ways to solve the problems of our citizens. One example they mentioned was using technology to determine the optimal route for rubbish trucks to minimise disturbance to residents (think 2 or 3 trucks in the same area waking up all the residents when 1 would do the trick).
The crux: the result of an innovative city is a better city in which to live.
The City of Melbourne is not only trying to become more innovative but actually getting it done through a number of initiatives in development. In fact, I empathised with them somewhat given that the City of Melbourne is trying to become a more innovative institution which is similar to what the University of Melbourne is trying to do.
I must say I was impressed by what the City of Melbourne is doing to ensure that we are at the forefront of innovation and a great place to live. I’m also very excited to see if they can pull off some of the other things they spoke about but which I didn’t mention in this post!
This post was contributed by Rohan Workman, MAP Manager at the University of Melbourne.