Innovation in policy-making

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

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:

  • Topping and tailing – missing out strong problem definition at the outset of a piece of policy work or missing out detailed development and testing at its conclusion
  • Insulating against evidence – allowing research and data-gathering to become a luxury rather than a necessity in policy-making
  • Narrowing the range – limiting the range of options and perspectives that are considered and the range of methods that are deployed

If you are or have been a civil servant, what do you think?  They certainly help to capture my experience of government, although I’m sure they’re partial and imperfect.  In writing the work up, I drew on the excellent work in this area of the Institute for Government.  I would particularly recommend these three papers.

By John Craig

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Entry filed under: Government Departments.

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