Kellie Beirne – Monmouthshire County Council
The thought-leader instilling a Silicon Valley mindset in local government in Wales
For entrepreneurs, the “fail-fast” mantra has become omnipresent and sparked numerous success stories. The idea is that you need to test often, fail fast and learn even faster – and this will help you abandon what doesn’t work so you can focus on what does. Born in the tech startups of Silicon Valley, it’s a way of working few analysts would associate with local government. However, one woman is showing that it’s an approach that the public sector can take advantage of too. Step forward Kellie Beirne.
As Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Enterprise Officer at Monmouthshire County Council, Kellie has gained a formidable reputation for bringing innovation – and innovative ways of working – to the public space. Kellie explains, “I see my job as developing new ways of working and ensuring government can be more opportunistic. Rather than doing the same things better, I want to make sure that we fundamentally do better things.”
As a public servant, Kellie knows that doing better things means giving her citizens what they want. Which in the modern era means twenty-four seven, always-on digital contact and the same kinds of technologies that the private sector offers. To help turn her vison into a reality, Kellie has been quick to develop a culture that encourages risk and isn’t afraid of failure.
Kellie says, “In my organisation, we have a fail-fast mindset. If you’re going to run with something new, prototype it, and if it doesn’t work get out quick and change it. That’s so much better than doing nothing, because doing nothing leads to paralysis. Often, people think that if something goes wrong they will face sanctions of some kind. But at Monmouthshire County Council we embrace the value of failure as it allows us to learn.”
Besides allowing innovation to flourish, this vibrant culture of learning and development is also geared towards the future. Specifically, to creating a public service fit for the 21st century – one that encourages collaboration and places the true purpose of public services at the heart of everything Kellie and her organisation does.
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