Learning from Indiana Jones – Radical Efficiency is about taking a ’leap of faith’

November 12, 2009 at 5:16 pm Leave a comment

By Peter Baeck

On November 6th we presented the Radical Efficiency interim report at an expert seminar hosted by the Innovation Unit and NESTA. The engaging discussions and inputs we had at the seminar confirmed us in the relevance of Radical Efficiency as well as its usefulness.

What has been particularly interesting is observing peoples reactions when the principles from the Radical Efficiency Model are being transformed in to questions. When asked to apply the four principles of the model, new information, new customers, new suppliers and new resources to specific public service areas, people were provoked to think in different ways of designing public services. The aim of radical efficiency is to prove that this approach can lead to the design of public services that are better, cheaper and more efficient.  The idea of better, cheaper and more efficient is often described as the holy grail of public services  – as something unique that can only be found by heroes who have overcome great struggles on their way.

This made me think of Indiana Jones’ quest for the Holy Grail in the movie of the same name, which is logically a really good example of this.

Just as it was the case with Indiana Jones, it is believing in the solution even though it is not immediately visible that is the biggest challenge for public services when presented with Radical Efficiency

When presented to Radical Efficiency, practitioners and policy makers acknowledged the quality of the model and the principles, but at the same time they raised the concern that civil servants and policy makers might not be willing to risk taking the leap op faith that a shift in design based on the four principles of the model demands. As Sandford Borins points out there is very little risk capital in the public sector, and therefore very little room to fail.[1]

Just as Indiana Jones overcame his fear of crossing the invisible bridge by believing in its existence, it is important that radical efficiency build confidence around its four principles so the leap into the ’unknown’ and radically efficient design of public services wont be as scary. We do this through a series of case studies, such as Narayana Hrudalaya, that describes how the principles has been at the core of cost cutting public sector innovations in both developed and developing countries.

Discuss Radical Efficieny with us here, and follow us on twitter and wikispaces if you are interested in learning more about our project.

[1] Borins, Sandford: Encouraging innovation in the public sector. Journal of intellectual capital. Vol. 2 No. 3, 2001.



Entry filed under: Government Departments, Innovation Policy, Innovation Worldwide, Local Authorities, Radical Efficiency, Research.

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