From crowdsourcing to gamification: devising next-generation innovation strategies in government

By on 22/11/2023 | Updated on 22/11/2023
A graphical representation of people answering questions and generating ideas
Photo: Jambulboy via Pixabay

Innovation both in politics and public service delivery is helping crowdsource new approaches for government. Michael Mascioni discusses the potential of the networked state to implement new solutions

Scepticism about government effectiveness and its capacity for dramatic transformation abounds, and is understandable under current circumstances. This scepticism is fuelled by concerns about the toxic political climate and gridlock around the world. But a number of key trends are driving political and governmental innovation in new directions, largely under the radar. As I discuss in my book Reinventing Government through Political Entrepreneurship and Exponential Innovation, an array of new innovation strategies and models are fundamentally reshaping government and politics.

These include the rise of political entrepreneurship, and the greater use of agile innovation, rapid experimentation, crowdsourcing, gamification, and increasing deployment of technologies such as artificial intelligence in government. Government organisations have increasingly adapted these models from the business and technology sectors. Although many of these practices and techniques are generally at an emergent stage in government, they promise to significantly transform it. Greater demands on government, including the need to operate with more limited resources, and the need of some governments to expand economically with relatively small populations, also tend to drive government transformation efforts.

Innovation in government is increasingly holistic, encompassing social innovation and sustainability in addition to technological change. Broader approaches to government transformation that involve greater input from diverse agencies and officials tend to achieve better results. But innovation in public policy is also driven to a significant extent by programmes and policies from outside sources, including such think tanks and policy organisations as No Labels, Third Way, New America, and Demos. A general shift is underway from a smaller number of large, lumbering experimentation projects to practically continuous smaller experimental projects that can be launched relatively quickly and scaled up if they succeed. Greater attention seems to be devoted to human-centric design in government, though government effectiveness in implementing that kind of design remains questionable.

Independent and alternative third parties tend to become more popular at certain points in history, due to greater citizen dissatisfaction with entrenched major parties. One of the more striking developments on the political scene has been the emergence of what I term ‘innovation parties’, which have significantly transformed the political process and structure. These parties have harnessed very diverse and unique strategies for attracting followers, often utilising new technologies. As a result, they have succeeded to a significant extent in raising their profiles, and engineering changes in political and governmental institutions. In essence, they have created new models for political parties, regularly employing such techniques as crowdfunding to engender greater member participation and support. Some of those parties include: The Alternative Denmark and NEOS-The New Austria and Liberal Forum. In addition, such non-partisan political networking organisations as The Alternative UK and We Do Democracy in Denmark have played a role in driving greater citizen participation in politics and public policy by educating citizens about key political issues, initiatives, and tools.

Political entrepreneurs from different parties, countries, and backgrounds are transforming conventional political structures, processes, and strategies. And not all of them are politicians. They are taking more risks, creating new platforms such as parties or software tools, and establishing new kinds of partnerships. My book highlights the innovative and entrepreneurial approaches of such diverse figures as French president Emmanuel Macron, former Arizona governor Doug Ducey, and Miami mayor Francis Suarez.

Although crowdsourcing can seem like a shiny object and token transformational tool in public policy, it is being increasingly embraced as a legitimate way for government and public policymakers to foster greater citizen participation, educate citizens about new programmes and policies, and elicit feedback from citizens on programmes and initiatives. Use of crowdsourcing in government and public policy in general has expanded considerably, and has become more impactful. It has been used for purposes ranging from eliciting input from citizens about the redevelopment of cities and to solutions for improving energy efficiency.

Gamification is also increasingly being applied in government, using prizes as incentives to participate. For example, Ohio employed a lottery game called Vax A Million, with US$5m in prizes to encourage its residents to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade utilised a game called KangaZoo, in collaboration with Tourism Australia and other organisations, to “support Australia’s Bush fire recovery” and promote tourism.

Taking into account the more fluid and multi-platform nature of government, various emergent and futuristic government models are emerging, including virtual nations, next-generation city-states, and space nations. Some of these could serve as valuable testbeds for new government programmes and services. These possibilities have opened up due to changing concepts of the state and the application of new technologies in government.

One of the emergent or futuristic government forms attracting greater attention recently is ‘the network state’, advanced by such thought leaders as Balaji Srinivasan. This concept posits that new states will develop first online on a small level using various technological tools, then in selective small physical outposts, then develop further online, and ultimately become larger, more widely dispersed states connected via interactive media. Physical or hybrid physical/virtual micronations have also served as incubators for new government programmes and processes. For example, Liberland, a micronation located on the Danube between Serbia and Croatia, conducts voting by blockchain, and has plans to have a presence in the metaverse. The nation, in fact, has described itself as a “network state”. The small Pacific island nation of Tuvalu, meanwhile, is recreating its entire government in the metaverse to prepare for what it anticipates as its physical destruction in the next fifty or sixty years or so due to rising sea levels and climate change.

These examples show that the concept of government itself is becoming increasingly fluid and organic, especially due to the digital delivery of a greater array of services. Public servants need to be aware of the range of possibilities that exist to make sure they can keep government services delivering for everyone in the 21st century.

About Michael Mascioni

Michael Mascioni is a writer, futurist, and conference producer. He has written on digital media, innovation, and clean energy for such publications as Government Transformation, Innovation & Tech Today,, Inter Park, and Hotelier. He wrote “Reinventing Government through Political Entrepreneurship and Exponential Innovation” and his book New Startup and Innovation Models in Government and Politics which will be published later this month. He is currently serving as conference producer for the 2023 Metaverse Spectrum Conference:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *