On reinventing the wheel

“If you wait around long enough, the old ideas come around again presented as new ones, largely because the current civil servants weren’t around when this was tried last time”, I remember my former Director of Public Health lamenting, “after a while you realise that everything goes in cycles”. I used to look at him […]

On public services taking the long view

1st March was world Futures Day. Here I reflect on how, at its best, public services take a long-term perspective. Slowly rising to obscure my view of Europe’s largest urban wetlands, the two blocks of flats opposite me have taken on an increasingly finished aspect recently. Balconies affixed, the cranes have been dismantled and, I […]

On local government in Covid19

Despite a decade of financial emasculation, Local Government has stepped up in the wake of Covid19. Those of us who have ever worked in local government never doubted it would, despite resourcing and capacity already being stretched thin. Not only does local government tend to attract people who want to support others and help make […]

On levelling up

This blog is an initial response to the recent publication ‘Levelling up our communities: a new social covenant’ by Danny Kruger MP. Let me start by saying that, on the surface, anything that raises the debate around the importance of community is a good thing. On this measure, the recent report by Danny Kruger MP […]

On making sense of crisis

How do we make sense of how the crisis is changing the world as we are living through it? Lots of conversations are taking place around how we track, learn from and make sense of the crisis, our response to it, and how we build bridges to a post-pandemic future. Thinking through the measures that […]

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 (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 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 […]