Commission. The general business group were taken from companies that had the reputation of being innovative.
4. We recorded each group using audio and video recorders and additional members of staff sat in on the discussions in the background and made detailed notes of what was said and of how discussions developed. All quotes from participants given below are verbatim.
5. We used the same approach across all seven of the groups. We began by giving a short presentation around the data that we collected from the survey we had undertaken. These data were broken down into five main areas: general characteristics of innovation; timescales and costs; origins and triggers on innovations; barriers to innovations; and impacts of innovations. We used these same categories to focus the following discussion. Each groups lasted about one and a half hours in total.
General characteristics of innovation
6. We began each discussion by listing the main characteristics of the innovations that had been submitted. This section covered the number of submissions that had been requested, received and which sections of central government has replied. We also categorised the innovations submitted into broad sweep clusters in order to ease analysis.
7. We asked the focus group participants whether these categorisations seemed right to them, were they what was expected. Most felt that they were right, and that it showed that government priorities over the last few years, such as around the Modernising Government agenda, had translated into innovations around performance management or joining-up. We then asked whether there seemed to be any omissions. One mid-level civil servant thought that newer government priorities had not been yet picked up in the sample:
“I would have expected some environmental innovations. If we are supposed to be improving sustainability, we have targets, we should need to do something about it.”
We then discussed whether the innovations involved technology in any
way, for example, were web based, IT based or mainly administrative. Our participants were quite surprised that so many of the innovations that had been submitted were administrative, rather than policy, innovations. However, they were less surprised that IT and web based projects were submitted. They felt it may be to do with those projects being more strictly costed than other projects:
“ . . . that is a distinct project, you can put costs to it” (Senior civil servants group)
Within the civil servants groups, there was some discussion here about
the difficulties of deciding which innovations to submit to our survey. Rather than necessarily choosing the innovation of which an organisation felt most proud, for example, respondents said they choose: