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Digital Transformation in Government Insight #74:
Singapore — Building innovation within the public sector

Singapore is a digital leader, with some far-reaching digital initiatives. At the core of its program is an innovation culture, with some practices that could be adopted by other governments.

Salsa Digital 5 February 2019

Singapore as a digital leader

We came across a great article earlier this year by apolitical, titled Singapore made innovation go viral in its public service (note, you’ll need to sign-up to see this article). It explores digital transformation in government from a different perspective — in addition to looking at some of Singapore’s digital achievements it explores an innovation mindset, focusing on how Singapore has created an innovation culture and a new innovation framework.

The innovation framework

Singapore’s innovation framework focuses on three directives:

  1. Understand stakeholders’ context and needs
  2. Experiment with diverse ideas
  3. Implement ideas and evaluate impact

The stages include specific actions around analysing patterns, setting goals, keeping on top of future trends, conducting research, shaping ideas, creating low-resolution prototypes and evaluating them, before creating high-resolution prototypes.

Innovation culture

Singapore uses three main tools to help create an innovation culture and reward best practice.

1. Innovation training

Singapore actually trains its officers on innovation, teaching them how to be innovative. It also holds ‘makeathons’, where public servants collaborate with citizens to come up with solutions.

One of the ideas that came out of a makeathon is a government marketplace, so one employee’s skills can be ‘rented out’ to another department.

2. Public Sector Transformation Awards

The Public Sector Transformation Awards is an annual event that recognises and celebrates public sector innovation. This helps to maintain a thriving innovation culture.

3. Coaching

Officers are coached throughout innovation projects, to help ensure success and innovation.

Innovation at work

There are many examples of Singapore’s digital innovation at work. Notwithstanding citizens’ rights to privacy, the digital transformation initiatives below showcase Singapore’s digital achievements:

These digital transformation projects and initiatives are all made possible by Singapore’s innovation culture, and how it’s embedded across government.

Salsa Digital’s take

Singapore’s track record in digital transformation in government is strong and it was fascinating to find out about some of the internal workings behind the program. In terms of internal culture you may also be interested in reading our blog on growth mindset and digital transformation. And if you’re interested in Singapore’s future plans, check out our blog on Singapore’s Digital Blueprint.

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