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Innovation Capacity Assessment

The innovation capacity of a local government is its potential to come up with, recognise and implement new ideas changing established ways of doing things. Changing societal and environmental conditions make it essential that local governments are adaptable and able to respond dynamically to new challenges. Thus, its innovation capacity needs deeper examination. 


To raise awareness for the value of innovation for local governments and supporting the creation of an action plan for improving the municipalities innovation capacity.


Step 1: Variation, Section, Stabilisation – How innovation-friendly is an organisation? 

Learning and innovation within an organisation like a local government can be described using the three basic mechanisms of evolutionary theory: variation, selection, re-stabilisation (brief explanation in the slides). 

In a first step, the workshop participants can discuss all together or in smaller groups: 

  1. How variation-friendly is your local government? How much room is there for doing things differently? 
  1. How selection-friendly is your local government? To what extent is it capable of selecting valuable innovations, refining and implement them? 
  1. How stabilisation-friendly is your local government? To what degree is it able to incorporate and mainstream new processes over time?

Step 2: Structures, Strategies, Resources for Innovation 

In a second step, participants can discuss in more detail in which fields of action or units within local government there is or could be more room for innovation. Are there established structures, strategies or even resources to foster innovation?  

Using a whiteboard, collect ideas and examples creating a mind map or table (template can be found in the slides). 

Step 3: Define activities / action plan  

In this final step, you agree on activities that will foster the innovative capacity of your local government. Assigning responsibilities, timeframes and the required human, time and financial resources is also recommended.  


“Innovation Capacity Assessment”slideswhiteboard, pencils in different colours, post-its 



1 to 2 hours


Better understanding of the concept of innovation in the context of local governments as well as an action plan for fostering the innovation capacity.


Based on GIZ (2015): Cooperation Management for Practitioners. Managing Social Change with Capacity WORKS, P. 232 – 235.