• Dubai's creative governance

      March 24, 2018    

    Encourage a culture of engagement, support, intelligent risk-taking, reduce blame culture and increase diversity - these are some of the many policies and practices that have been recommended to the Dubai government departments, according to a report released recently.

    The Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG) and the Manchester University have released the 'Creativity and Innovation in the Dubai Government: Exploring Underlying Factors at Individual, Team and Organisational Levels' report, which highlights the level of innovation and creativity within the government departments.

    The report also asked Dubai Government employees 'What do you think could be done to encourage more creativity and innovation in your organisation?'. The study is based on the responses of 979 people (578 males) who completed a short survey about their experiences of creativity and innovation while working for the Dubai Government.

    Based on its findings, the report listed 25 policies, practices and interventions that can be implemented to improve and enhance creativity and innovation.

    "Helping a government or any organisation to be creative and innovative depends on getting the system. There is no 'quick-fix' or simple initiative," said Dr Mark Batey, creativity, innovation and leadership specialist at the University of Manchester's Alliance Manchester Business School.

    "It is about getting the right interplay between the people and the everyday processes, procedures and policies. Fundamental to this system is first attracting, recruiting and training colleagues to excel at 'creative thinking' and 'innovative doing'. Then, second, deploying these colleagues into diverse, trusting and open teams with leaders who know how to encourage creative innovation as well as everyday management. Third, at the level of the organisation it is vital to encourage collaboration both inside the organisation and with others.

    "When these elements - people, processes, procedures and policies - are aligned, the culture provides the power and support to encourage individuals, teams and their leaders to perform.

    "I was also pleased to see that my strong belief that colleagues usually know what could and should be done to further improve creativity and innovation was proved true. You could spend fortunes on expensive consultants to 'tell' you what your organisation needs to do. Instead, you should invest much of your effort on 'listening' to the ideas and solutions that lie within your workforce."

    According to Dr Immanuel Azaad Moonesar, assistant professor at MBRSG, the research for the report was carried out in 2015 and early 2016.

    It was carried out shortly after the UAE Innovation Strategy was announced in 2015 and a greater focus on innovation within the government and private entities had come into play. Since then, several different government departments have adopted innovation into their work. The UAE also holds an annual Innovation Month, where a range of activities that promote innovation and creativity are held across the nation. /p>

    Dr Moonesar said the report showed that the female respondents perceived themselves to have less opportunity for decision making and receive less support from their colleagues or supervisors to be creative and innovative.

    However, Dr Moonesar believed the findings for this specific area would be "much different" if it had been measured today.

    "This was the response that they personally felt," Dr Moonesar said. "This survey was done in 2015 to early 2016. The era of innovation had started to come into play at the time. One thing to take into consideration is that the male and female ratio within Dubai - it's two-thirds male versus one-third female as a whole. Therefore, the ratio itself lands some light in terms of the opportunities and hence the perception would be this way.

    "Recently as we have seen within the UAE, 40 per cent of the cabinet members are women. If we run this survey in 2020-2021, there would be a difference."

    When asked how different the findings would be if the study was carried out in 2018, Batey said: "I believe there would be some subtle, but not substantial differences. I am certain that every day and every year the government of Dubai is becoming more creative and innovative. However, the systemic challenges around people, processes, procedures and policies that could be gently re-engineered will stay the same. Cultures of governments or large organisations tend to shift slowly."

    The report also showed that, overall, there is a culture of innovation within the Dubai government departments, which has helped create a behaviour of creativity within employees.

    Innovations introduced across the UAE government departments

    In December 2013, a Cabinet Retreat was organised by Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre For Government Innovation (MBRCGI) in an effort to develop government services, face field challenges and contribute to increasing the efficiency of government administrative work. A Government Innovation Laboratory was organised during the Cabinet Retreat that was held at Sir Bani Yas Island.

    Ministry of Environment and Water (2014)

    As a result of the Cabinet Retreat, the Ministry of Environment and Water's Government Innovation Laboratory was launched with the aim of achieving the objectives of the UAE Vision 2021 in addition to the alignment with the UAE National Innovation Strategy and in an effort to improve environmental performance and sustainability. The ministry organised its first Government Innovation Laboratory on October 15, 2014, in order to find innovative initiatives and develop a comprehensive and integrated national strategy to preserve the environment and improve the quality of life in the UAE.

    Ministry of Health (2014)

    Following the previous innovation laboratory, in line with the directives of the President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, to promote cooperation between the government and the private sectors to improve the health sector, the Ministry of Health organised the Government Innovation Laboratory on February 4, 2014. It aimed to "enhance cooperation between the government and private sectors, establish a high-quality health organisation, and provide the best medical services to ensure safety among citizens and all members of society". This laboratory, which involved 180 participants, contributed to proposing twelve general initiatives, emphasising the UAE's utmost importance in the citizens' health.

    Ministry of Social Affairs (2014)

    The Ministry of Social Affairs' Government Innovation Laboratory was launched on June 10, 2014, based on the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, that defines social development as a main pillar in the comprehensive development process. The ministry organised innovation lab to discuss and develop appropriate solutions to major challenges faced by the social affairs sector.

    'Our Youth Innovates' Laboratory (2015)

    In collaboration with the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Community Development, the MBRCGI organised the 'Our Youth Innovates' laboratory on February 11, 2015, as part of a series of seminars.

    'Gender Balance in Governments' Laboratory (2015)

    In cooperation with the Dubai Women Establishment, the MBRCGI organised the 'Gender Balance in Government' laboratory on February 11, 2015. This laboratory was hosted as a private session under the patronage of Sheikha Manal bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, president of the Dubai Women Establishment. Thirty participants, including a group of international experts who participated in the Government Summit, as well as senior officials and decision-makers, attended the session. This laboratory is aimed at "discussing global trends and policies that are related to the provision of equal opportunities and achievement of gender equality within governments".

    Dubai Innovation Week (2015) / Dubai Innovation Month (2018)

    In 2015, an entire week was dedicated to promoting and fostering innovation and creativity in the UAE. In 2018, an entire month was dedicated to innovation. A range of activities were held across the UAE to promote innovation and creativity among residents.

    Report at a glance

    The Creativity and Innovation in the Dubai Government: Exploring Underlying Factors at Individual, Team and Organisational Levels report by the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government and Manchester University was carried out in 2015 to early 2016, but was released in 2018.

    The report aimed to measure the level of creativity and innovation within the Dubai government departments, their employees and their behaviour in terms of creativity.

    The study is based on the responses of 979 people (578 male) who completed a short survey about their experiences of creativity and innovation while working for the Dubai Government. The employees were also asked to write down their opinions as to how creativity and innovation could be better encouraged within the Dubai Government. The report revealed that there was an increased level of creativity within the Dubai government employees.


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