Contemporary public administrations face challenges on an unprecedented scale. Societal problems are becoming ever more complex, citizens’ expectations are constantly growing and new technologies are evolving rapidly (the digital revolution, big data, social networks, etc.). The challenges are not only great but also urgent. One only has to think about the environmental and ethical imperatives currently pushing administrations towards action. And all this must be done without losing sight of the ever-present internal challenges linked to respecting financial rules and human resources management practices which often create highly restrictive frameworks within which political leaders and public administrators are forced to work. Faced with this, and more than ever before, public services must have the capacity to anticipate and analyse needs for change and then implement innovations which render public actions more coherent and effective. Those public services must also remain faithful to the foundational values of a democratic State, within the law and in line with the political projects framing administrative action.
To a large extent, public innovation depends on the capacity of managers at all levels to understand the mechanisms of innovation, provide leadership that is favourable to it and put in place the conditions necessary for their colleagues’ transformational energies to be unleashed. But how should that be done?