Published: Written By: Paul Macmillan

Dubai cityscape

You can probably think of a few Heads of State who would proclaim to the world that their aspiration is to govern better.  But can you think of any who in the pursuit of innovation would gather the top 2500 government senior executives and managers for three full days to make sure they understood their collective commitment to improving people’s lives?

And, who provide access to the world’s best leaders from governments, the corporate world and civil society so the leadership team knows, very clearly, what it takes to go from good to great?

What about a leader who would invest state resources so that the management cadre could witness new and emerging technologies that should fundamentally change the way that public services are delivered?   Technologies and innovations like: The Internet of Things; Big Data; Mobile Apps; On-line education; Robotics; the science of creating more livable cities; behavioral economics; and artificial intelligence that can produce exponential advances in research and development.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) just wrapped up its 3rd annual Government Summit, which I had the privilege of attending in Dubai. This year’s theme – Shaping Future Governments – could not have come at a better time. Things we thought were science fiction only a few years ago, are becoming reality. Cars can drive themselves. Your DNA can be sequenced for less than $200.  Computers can self-learn. But not enough of our governments are making meaningful commitments to incorporate rapid technological advances – even light weight ones like drones – into everyday service delivery.

As the United Nations and Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) noted at the Summit, more and more countries are offering e-services. In fact, e-Estonia was profiled for effective mobile government solutions.  Some leaders might ask if Estonia can achieve that kind of success with its limited resources, can innovation really be all that hard? But had those leaders spent three days immersed in the Summit’s “Museum of the Future” the implications of what the UAE and its partners were displaying would have almost certainly changed that view.

Effective innovation leaders are relentless in the pursuit of the next advantage. Adapting services to take advantage of smart phones is a very important innovation.  But there are exponential advances in technologies that can be deployed for social good taking place all around our governments.  Crowdsourcing, additive manufacturing and geospatial analytics are just some of the tools that can be utilized to improve services to society.  These dynamic technologies also require relentless leadership attention. Only those who are charged with leading government can actually allow it to adapt to these advances. For me,The Government Summit 2015 was an impressive display of adaptive, relentless, leadership in pursuit of innovation.

Paul Macmillan is the global public sector leader for Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, where he is responsible for the network’s client service innovation to support public-purpose organizations around the world. He is the coauthor of The Solution Revolution.