The Creative Bureaucracy Festival
Online, 23 March &
Live in Berlin, 15 June 2023
“Public administrations can be flexible, proactive, and innovative. YES – they also employ people who are open and ready to listen to us, as long as we find the right approach to them,” representatives of the administration, business, and civil society organizations united around this opinion during the “Partnership for Creative Bureaucracy” forum on 16 December 2022.
The event became a platform for sharing good practices of the work with administrations from all over Bulgaria, as well as a discussion forum on the topic of – how we can work better together. The meeting was organized by BG Be Active association and the Team for Sofia association, mentored by the Creative Bureaucracy Festival crew.
Bureaucracy and cumbersome procedures are among the main problems of those working in public institutions and of everyone who has tried to complete their task directly dependent on those institutions. Flexibility and fewer bureaucratic hurdles were among the event’s main themes, followed by discussions in the search for alternative options.
With their opening words – Laska Nenova and Ljubo Georgiev kicked off the event with +60 participants coming from 11 different Bulgarian cities.
“Anything outside of stereotypes can be defined as creative bureaucracy. These are alternative and modern methods of work that facilitate the processes in the administrative sector,” - highlighted Laska Nenova from the BG Be Active association and added, “Our association has successfully partnered with a number of municipalities across the country to create a healthy, beautiful and accessible urban environment. We believe that by sharing our good examples, more municipalities will be convinced that there is a way to cooperate with us and other organisations successfully.”
“There are good examples of creative bureaucracies and bureaucrats in Bulgaria, but rather than being suppressed they should be encouraged because they are different. This requires courage and patience” explained Lyubo Georgiev from the Team for Sofia Association.
The event’s opening session featured Charles Landry, Creative Bureaucracy Festival (CBF) president, and Robyn Bennett – Programme & Partnerships Manager of the event. Charles shared the pathway of the CBF and the mission behind the initiative, while Robyn presented examples of creative bureaucracies and creative bureaucrats around the world.
The international session was followed by examples showcasing creative bureaucracy examples from Bulgaria. Some of the key takeaways were presented by:
👉 Gencho Genchev, mayor of Svishtov municipality, shared, “Yes, many municipalities and Mayors are afraid to work closely with the civil society sector, but I am on the opposite side – I love working with those organizations as they have some of the best ideas”. He then highlighted that “Our city is an excellent example of how the best results are obtained when the civil society sector, citizens, and administration work together. I believe this is the path the administration and civil society should develop”.
👉 Flexibility, working with new management tools, and the propensity to test and adapt, open new doors and opportunities for administrations. Silvina Furnadzhieva from Team for Sofia Association presented practices that can save time and resources when dealing with various projects and administrative hurdles, “There is no need to do 15 steps when something can be done in 1 step. Change can be nice; we just don’t have to fear it. If you don’t try, how will you know if you can?”.
👉 “Effective communication leads to collaboration,” pointed out in her presentation Adriana Sabeva from Imp-Act agency – a communications agency that connects causes, institutions, and businesses with a dedicated team for the development of a number of initiatives. She presented her experience of working on three concepts for renovation and construction in the city of Sofia. “We can stimulate collaboration and attract institutions by following these 4 simple steps: 1. Understanding the problem; 2. Translation of the messages – to speak in the same language; 3, Communication, communication, communication; 4. Different (personal) approaches to working with them.”
👉 “To escape bureaucracy, we need entrepreneurial thinking and not to be afraid of testing new ideas”. According to Georgi Penchev from the Team for Sofia, this can happen if municipal administrations optimize their work processes. Nikola Timchev from “Data for good „organization added that in order to facilitate services to citizens and improve the organization of activities, alternative digital solutions should be tested and implemented in municipal administrations.
“We need to overcome scepticism, prejudice, and mistrust. We need to focus on collaboration and cooperation and together we can achieve working and creative bureaucracy."
Author: Rummy Kirizieva (BG Be Active Association)