In the private sector, open innovation is increasingly being (recognized as) a success factor. But it is not only there that external impulses can provide the necessary impetus for innovation. In order to position oneself as an innovative designer and pioneer, it is also necessary for political institutions and parties to open up to the outside world.
Both the ÖVP in Austria and the CSU in Bavaria are pioneers in this respect. In recent years, they have actively involved citizens and party members in shaping their party programmes and developing political principles.
Evolution Volkspartei of the ÖVP
In order to give Austrian citizens the opportunity to contribute their ideas and opinions to the new party programme, the ÖVP opened the process of preparing the party programme. On an online platform, the so-called “wall of ideas”, all citizens were able to discuss various topics and make suggestions for the party programme. On the basis of the contributions submitted, the ÖVP then developed 39 key questions which summarised the essence of the discussions and were submitted to the party members for voting both online and offline.
The pre-selected topics received an overwhelming vote of approval and almost all proposals were accepted. The key questions then served as the basis for a large part of the party programme, which was very well received by the population.
Further information and a detailed examination of the ÖVP case can be found here.
The CSU also wanted to give the population a greater say and therefore decided to open the process of drawing up its party programme. In contrast to the ÖVP, the CSU chose an approach in which it offered party members the opportunity to contribute their ideas for the new party programme.
Party members were able to exchange ideas and express their opinions in 15 thematic areas. The discussion amounts were then classified into clusters and thus found their way into the new party programme, the so-called Bayernplan. Almost half (49%) of the content presented there was discussed in advance on the platform and some of its exact wording was included in the document.
Further information and a detailed examination of the CSU case can be found here.
Niclas Kröger, who accompanied both projects, derives the following 9 practical implications from them:
- A change in the innovation culture should be decided and supported top-down
- When using an external IT platform, close coordination should take place with your own IT department
- The initiative should inform, actively involve and empower citizens to take an active part in its shaping
- Open approaches to innovation should also follow a defined process in which key stakeholders are involved in the right place
- Communication is crucial in open government and should be promoted openly and transparently
- In addition to online activities, offline events should also be targeted in order to get in touch with citizens
- In order to achieve a targeted discussion in the community, an active community management has to be pursued
- No open government campaign should be launched without the authentic intention of implementing the contents of the project
- A detailed assessment of internal and external costs should be made in advance in order to allocate sufficient resources