Competency framework for experimental problem solving

We’ve worked with leading innovation practitioners from around the world to develop a new competency framework which defines the key skills, attitudes and behaviours that public sector innovators combine in order to solve public problems.¹

We believe that problem solving is at the heart of how governments operate, and this is core to the development of the framework. It has been framed around experimental problem solving in order to emphasise how core attitudes and characteristics, in combination with key skills and competencies, enable behaviours that increase the likelihood of successful problem solving activities and better improve capacity.

The framework also goes beyond creative thinking techniques and brainstorming – which are useful for generating ideas – and highlight the competencies that are needed to systematically create, authorise, test and improve on ideas.

The version presented here is an initial overview and the first step in our process to understand, reflect on and assess the key attitudes and skills that we consider crucial for public sector innovation.

Three core categories

The framework describes three categories that - according to our experience and research - are crucial to form the basis of successful experimental problem solving:

  1. Accelerating learning: Exploring and experimenting to identify knowledge gaps, create new understanding and inform decision-making in new ways
  2. Working together: Engaging with citizens and multiple stakeholders to ensure co-creation and collaborative ownership of new solutions
  3. Leading change: Creating space for innovation and driving change processes to mobilise people, inspire action and ensure strategic outcomes

Content principles for the framework

The broader innovation skillset: The attitudes and skills outlined in the framework are the broader elements that, in combination, drive successful application of experimental problem solving activities.

Creating and maintaining the mandate for innovation: The effort required to create the space and legitimacy for innovation in government is often underestimated, so the framework also covers skills for creating an enabling environment to make innovation happen and ensure impact.

Team-focus: Teams are central to successful problem solving and so we start with the team, rather than the individual, as the unit of action. The challenge (and opportunity) is to combine these skills and attitudes in ways that make the team greater than its individual members.

To find out more about why and how we developed the framework, read our story on What are the skills and attitudes for successful public problem solving?