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In my role as Government Innovation Officer (GIO) for the Commonwealth, there are several ways in which I help move the innovation agenda forward within the Commonwealth’s various agencies.

Blogphoto2One category of activity entails my dialoguing with agency leaders to identify opportunities for innovation, and then launching projects that address those areas.  We are pleased to have assembled an initial portfolio of significant projects, and we are making excellent progress on them.  Governor Patrick’s January 2013 budget proposal contained a section entitled “Innovations to Improve Operations” which lists those initial projects.  We have already implemented several of these projects, while other projects are underway.  From time to time, we will be describing some of these projects in the Mass Innovation Blog.

Another category of my activity entails me sharing with Commonwealth employees to help them learn ways in which THEY can be innovative regarding how they approach their jobs and objectives.  Recently I spoke at a “PM Connect” meeting, which is a quarterly gathering of Commonwealth program managers.  About 40 leaders attended, and I had the opportunity to share with them on a variety of innovation topics.  I began by recapping examples of how individuals and organizations across our country have increased their productivity by leveraging innovation, and pointed out that our collective challenge is to ensure that the Commonwealth is at the forefront of leading these changes.  We touched on the five stages of e-government, and also spent time learning about some interesting government innovation principles described in a new book, Citizenville, by Gavin Newsom.

The leaders in attendance were very enthusiastic and receptive to the innovation principles shared, and readily received one of our key messages, which is that “Innovation is a team sport!”  (No-one creates a successful innovation alone.)

I also described “Innovator’s DNA,” which (as described by Clayton Christensen) is “The ability to make connections between seemingly unconnected things.” (For example, a calligraphy class inspired Steve Jobs’ emphasis on typography in early Macintosh computers.)

Here are some techniques to stimulate such innovative connections.  You can remember them with the acronym NOOQE which you can pronounce like the word “nuke.”):

  • Networking: Interact with people from different backgrounds and different ways of thinking.
  • Originating: Think outside the box by talking to someone who plays in a different box.
  • Observing: Watch the world around you for surprising stimuli.
  • Questioning: Ask probing questions which impose or remove constraints.
  • Experimenting: Consciously try new things or go to new places.

The below video provides a quick taste of our session:


Written By:

Government Innovation Officer

As Government Innovation Officer (GIO) for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, Antonio ("Tony") Parham advises executive branch leaders on identifying and executing high impact business change projects. As the first chief innovation officer for the Commonwealth, the GIO is accountable for improving internal government efficiencies and for the improved experience of outside stakeholders such as residents, businesses and local governments. Key GIO accomplishments are described at

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