When someone is trying to make conversation, it’s rude to ignore them

The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) is one of the new kids on the Whitehall block. The department has been established to steward the Government programmes that foster a dynamic, knowledge-based economy. And with a Minister like John Denham at the helm, the outlook is good.

A while back I picked up on a consultation DIUS was staging on innovation and how it should be sustained in the UK. Originally based on a conventional set of questions and an invitation to send in a response, I spotted that DIUS have now ‘upgraded’ the exercise with a consultation microsite.

The opportunity to get involved in a consultation about the contribution of innovation to the UK’s competitiveness is welcomed. The exercise has a particular focus on science and innovation policies and is open until January 31st 2008. I’m going to respond where I can (science and innovation is not exactly my area of expertise) and would urge others to get involved in order to demonstrate the depth of interest and the breadth of the innovation practitioner community.

While enthusiastic about the consultation, I am disappointed with a few elements of its format. The consultation was originally more generic – but at least the new science-related focus bodes well in terms of measurable outcomes. I think the consultation could have been better marketed to ensure the word got out beyond the usual big-players.

But it’s the consultation site that is the main let-down. The format and design look dated and flimsy. The site offers response boxes with a 1000 character limit, and very little by way of orientation content. Plus, I cannot choose to see how many other people have responded and along what lines, which I feel is a blow to the transparency of the exercise as well as the appeal of the site.

My expectations, and I suspect those of the ‘innovation community’, is for something more contemporary. This is more of a nod or a furtive glance in the direction of a participative consultation rather than a genuine attempt to be “innovative in the way it [DIUS] works internally and with others.”

Still, with all that said, I return to my starting sentiment and the fact that it is a start and a worthwhile consultation. From small acorns and all that…

What I might do is post up my responses here for others to have a look at and encourage others to do so. What do you think?

3 thoughts on “When someone is trying to make conversation, it’s rude to ignore them

  1. Ross,

    Good points and thanks for urging people to comment on our microsite.

    This is the first step in our efforts to engage more widely with our innovation community. We’ll work to improve the site and how we engage in the future so thank you very much for your comments.

    I’ve added your RSS feed to our innovation reading list (http://tinyurl.com/2mpsf7). If you, or any other readers, feel there is something we should be reading that might help influence our thinking – please email: innovation.ideas[at]dius.gsi.gov.uk

    Again, thanks for the feedback and I look forward to reading your future posts

    David Evans – Director of Innovation, DIUS

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