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 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 – […]

On investing in social challenges

Government spends more than £250bn of taxpayers money every year, providing services, fixing problems or improving communities up and down the land. The risks of getting it wrong are high profile, destructive and far reaching. The benefits of getting it right include improved quality of life, innovation and value for money. In this two-part blog […]

On the biggest issue you never knew you cared about

Government spends more than £250bn of taxpayers money every year, providing services, fixing problems or improving communities up and down the land. The risks of getting it wrong are high profile, destructive and far reaching. The benefits of getting it right include improved quality of life, innovation and value for money. In this two-part blog […]

On learning from social entrepreneurs

Does the skillset and mindset of the social entrepreneur apply to those trying to work entrepreneurially within the public sector? Can we, in other words, learn from social entrepreneurs who move fast and fix things? There are various conceptions of the entrepreneur, from the more traditional innovator emerging in the private sector, to those working […]

On the civil society strategy

The government’s civil society strategy, published recently, includes a focus on collaborative commissioning and a recognition that “the system actively, albeit accidentally restricts diversity of the market by putting in significant barriers that exclude smaller providers”. We recently explored how to bring the diversity of smaller providers and the wider social sector to the task […]

Problems are not markets

A critical and often overlooked challenge facing those seeking to resolve challenges in the public sector is that that problems don’t always equal markets. Without a systemic understanding of the problem, any attempt at a resolution is likely to fall into ‘innovation theatre’ – it may look great, but once the show’s over there’s nothing […]

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 social movements as energy for change

Social movements are about trying to change the status quo. Maybe you’re fighting for a particular service to be provided in the first place, because someone you love or care about has needs that aren’t being met. Perhaps you’re campaigning to retain a valued service in the long run because the consequences of cuts on […]

On target setting

I have had to do things as part of my roles in Local Government that made absolutely no logical sense to me, yet they still have to be done, especially when they are a legal requirement, and so I did them to the best that I could. The performance regime in local government is one […]

On Outcomes

I have to admit I get disproportionately agitated when others show they don’t understand what an outcome is and why it matters. So here’s my summary version, for the record.  An outcome is a condition of wellbeing for whole populations: children, adults or families. It’s framed in the positive: all young people are of a […]

On innovation in budgeting

“I’m on a mission to overthrow traditional budget processes used in 99% of organisations across the world. It’s a process set up to preserve the status quo.” The Director of the Office Of Budgeting in Baltimore City Council is a man on a mission, and whilst I wanted to applaud his words I was, I’ll […]