New home for our blog

Our blog has now settled in to its new home on our main website. Any blog posts from June 2011 onwards are housed here

So drop in and have a nose around.


June 2, 2011 at 12:53 pm Leave a comment

What MP3s can teach public services

There are two stereotypes about innovators.  The first is of the outsider, alone in his garden shed (and yes, it is a ‘he’).  The second is of the enormous corporation, with endless resources for R&D.  Of course, both of these have produced amazing innovations, but so have a thousand other types of innovators.  I was reminded of the danger of those stereotypes by a piece from Mckinsey on innovation and the US economy.  Sure, it probably landed in your inbox too, but in case you didn’t read it, here’s the standout line: (more…)

May 25, 2011 at 4:54 pm Leave a comment

The Power of Backward Design for teachers

by Alec Patton

I’ve just been reading an extract from Understanding by Design,by Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe, which is about what they call ‘teaching for understanding’.

One of the key compononents of this is ‘backward design’, the essence of which is that

Our lessons, units, and courses should be logically inferred from the results sought, not derived from the methods, books, and activities with which we are most comfortable.

They contrast this with what they call ‘content-focused design’, a typical example of which would look like this: (more…)

May 24, 2011 at 9:28 am 2 comments

Announcing M(ums)-Power

We are working with UCLH, Microsoft, Mumsnet and others to launch a new project funded by the Health Foundation looking to improve antenatal care.  Great service makes a difference, and for pregnant women, that difference can mean everything.  But pregnant women do not always experience great service, without knowledge or control at the vital moment.  This project is about changing that – putting power in the hands of Mums and ensuring antenatal services work around their needs and concerns.

Just 38% of mothers believe they had access to good antenatal information and too few feel as supported as they should.  This project will work alongside women, learning from them to create a friendlier, more helpful and more convenient service.  It will work with the people women meet during their pregnancy, to think about what more they could do to help and reassure them.  It will also look at the tools and systems the service uses.  For example, it will look at what can be done through the internet and telephone to provide good information and access to things like test results and appointments. (more…)

May 23, 2011 at 6:04 pm Leave a comment

Innovation in policy-making

We did a small piece of work recently on the role of innovation in central government policy-making.  Arguably, both the challenge departments face and our prescriptions were fairly predictable.  For departments, time and money is tighter than ever and too often innovation can feel like a luxury.  For us, in policy processes of a few months duration, spending a few hours drawing on a broader range of methods and perspectives is a pretty smart move.

Perhaps most interesting was our synthesis of the range of things that limit the use of innovation in government policy-making: (more…)

May 20, 2011 at 12:06 pm Leave a comment

Private-sector spin-ins and innovation

I am always told that you learn a great deal by failing.  It’s true, failure is an intrinsic part of innovation, but you learn far more by succeeding.  Particularly in public service innovation, where failures can affect the public and cost public money.

This thought is prompted by the £300m losses at Southern Cross, which operataes 750 care homes in the UK.  As in health, we know very little about the failure regime in social care.  (more…)

May 20, 2011 at 9:31 am 3 comments

Thinking about Matthew Syed and the ‘Talent Myth’: maybe we should stop looking for the truth, and decide what it’s most helpful to believe

by Alec Patton

Last Wednesday, Radio 4’s Today programme included a not especially edifying debate between Matthew Syed (author of Bounce), and Peter Saunders, author of Social Mobility Myths, chaired by John Humphreys. (more…)

May 16, 2011 at 10:50 am 1 comment

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