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 a stitch in time

I co-authored a report into the value of foresight and futures and provide here my introduction to that work. We set out on a research journey to write a provocation around the value, practice and opportunity of foresight and futures methodologies in different contexts, with a focus on their potential for improving public policy and […]

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 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 public and private sector innovation

Financial innovation in the public sector might come as a surprise. We normally don’t think of the public sector as an innovative place. If there is a cliché that comes to mind, it’s probably a creaking bureaucracy, struggling to keep up with the modern world. The reality is different. The RSA recently partnered with the global […]

On civic models of basic income

How can new models of Basic Income provide not only a safety net for those who need it but also a springboard to a better life? Talk about the concept of universal basic income (UBI) and the various models that are emerging in different parts of the world is becoming increasingly mainstream. The pressures of […]

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 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 alternatives to ‘top-down’ change

With politics deadlocked and technology changing fast, the public sector needs innovation. But the traditional approach of driving change in the public sector – from the top-down – feels slow and inflexible for today’s networked world. What does it take for innovation to work in the public sector, where problems and interventions are usually person-centered […]

On the rise in foodbank use

Today, Human Rights Watch vividly illustrate the rise of foodbank use in the UK. In their first work on the right to food in a “rich democracy”, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) report Nothing Left in the Cupboards says: “The right to food is a fundamental human right contained in several international treaties to which […]

On innovation in health and social care (part 2)

If public services are going to meet the volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous demands of the 21st Century they need to be redefined and redesigned with resilience at their heart.  Seeking change by only invoking the big levers of institutions – policy, economic, legal, and so forth – will only get us so far, opening […]