Sweden is a country with high innovation and an ideal when it comes to community building and welfare. In the report Rethinking government - doing things differently, we can get our positive beliefs about Sweden confirmed – and at the same time realize that we share the enormous challenges in areas such as public sector with our competitor countries.
The study was conducted through interviews with government representatives in 17 countries and has been combined with an extensive study with 1200 decision makers in business life.
The challenge in the economic turmoil is to balance and stabilize state budgets. That we know. In addition, we need to find solutions to key issues such as finding the right skills and create innovation, says Jan Sturesson, Global head of public sector within PwC, who wrote the report. [¹] Only the ones who are capable of reforming the public sector will be going strong into the future.
To think in new ways and engage in change is not what everyone most associates with the institutions of society. One conclusion why this is the case is that the competencies in these organizations that are supposed to drive change are very similar. Another reason is that we tend to apply existing proven solutions instead of using new approaches that fit the problems as they look today, or tomorrow. The individuals and the groups who are expected to provide innovative thinking are in most cases the same age, have similar training, has a similar frame of reference and the same idea of how to solve problems. And it's hard to lift yourself by the hair.
In fact, everyone knows, and this has been shown by research time and again, that if people in a team have different skills and perspectives, the result is more unpredictable and creative than if the people in the team are very similar in training and background.
Frequently, voices are heard in the debate that say we must become better at hiring people with foreign background in Sweden. Sure, there is a point of view. But why not turn things around? How can we meet the needs for new thinking, new approaches and new skills? Answer – By using all available expertise in the country. By creating heterogeneous teams. By daring to create new approaches instead of choosing from the old. By engaging people with training and experience from other countries.
We do not presently do this to the extent that we should. It is sad that we are unable to engage people who are well trained and experienced professionals from other countries to contribute to the development we need. Take for example the so-called Stockholm paradox. Stockholm is seen as a city that is characterized by creativity, tolerance and diversity. On the other hand, the region is not able to use the human capital available in the immigrant population. This is especially true in the public sector.[²]
Think "Innovation through diversity"! There is a great need for regeneration and development in many parts of Swedish society. At the same time educated and talented people with foreign backgrounds are unemployed in Sweden. We need to get better at solving challenges in the community where development strength, ideas and capacity are lacking. We do ourselves a great service by bringing together organizations with considerable needs for development with unemployed people who have foreign qualifications.
The result is that new perspectives, new thinking and new solutions arise. Welcome to a surprising future.
² Använd kompetensen, Stockholms läns landsting (TMR), Rapport 5:2011