On developing my change framework

Over the last 18 months I’ve been exploring what we are learning about crises and change as the pandemic continues. Here’s an abbreviated run through. Early in Lockdown 1 I was trying to figure out what would have helped me, back in my local government days, track what was happening in response to Covid. And […]

On communities after Covid-19

Grafton, a small New England settlement in Vermont state, had long been home to those seeking a quiet, unintruded life characterised by low levels of government regulation and civic participation. It seemed like the perfect place to develop a community based on logic and free market principles, and that is exactly what a group of […]

On creating the conditions for innovation

It’s a recurring theme, that of thinking about the journey to radical innovation in the public sector. It’s one thing to say that innovation occurs within your organisation yet the real challenge is in how to shift systems in more effective directions. System-changing innovations provide significant boosts to public value and, as David Albury recognises, […]

On scrapping job descriptions

I sometimes wonder whether anyone actually looks at their job descriptions once they are appointed. If you do, then why do you? Perhaps it is to ensure that you are not getting out of your lane and tripping over someone else’s work, or inadvertantly taking on responsibilities which should attract more remuneration. Perhaps you simply […]

On finding the unknown

Why is entrepreneurialism in the public sector important and why do we need new ways of spending public money that deliver greater public value? Let me frame this challenge with a Quote from Plato, in which Meno asked: “how will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?”. In […]

On accelerating social innovation

In order to transform public services and improve population health outcomes, we need to accelerate the social innovation process in communities – co-creating solutions from the ‘bottom up’ to tackle complex societal challenges. There are wider economic and societal benefits to be realised from embracing the efforts of community organisers and social entrepreneurs. The challenge […]

On (dis)investing in prevention

The recent review into Sure Start children’s centres offers a window into a complex system: early years services. They were designed to bring a range of such service sunder one roof and improve access, often in the more disadvantages communities in the UK. Indeed, in my local government role I sat on a board for a […]

On moving fast and fixing things

Commissioning and innovation are two terms that belong together, yet all too often they remain separated, unless it is to describe the inability of the former to achieve the latter. In this piece I’ll explore why they are normally used as either/or terms and share some learning from places that are actively trying to put […]

On commissioning in complexity

“Probation is a complex social service, and it has proved well-nigh impossible to reduce it to a set of contractual requirements.” Such was the conclusion of HM Chief Inspector of Probation when the government announced this week that they were re-nationalising the delivery of some probation services. If outsourcing led to improved outcomes at lower […]

On basic income as a means to an end

How can we change the welfare system to help people solve their individual challenges? We’ve been exploring how a basic income could change the way welfare works. We wanted to see how a basic income could be designed in way that helps create a community that supports people.  This needed us to hear people’s voices […]

On partnerships for transformation

At first glance, this might be seen as an odd time to be looking at innovation in public sector partnerships as councils and the wider sector has experienced almost a decade of significant, sustained funding cuts. Yet although necessity can be the mother of invention, it does not always follow that a necessity driven by […]

On innovation through partnership

During a decade in which austerity has been the prevailing narrative and the predominant challenge facing the public sector, reducing budgets and service cuts are affecting different parts of the public sector, and different parts of the country, to different degrees. In many areas this has led to the scaling back of non-statutory services. A casualty of this – […]