Today's global financial and social crises demand innovation not only in public services, but within the whole bureaucratic, administrative system of public governance. In order to respond effectively to a changing context of complexity and uncertainty, governments and other public service organisations need to consider innovating the processes and practices of public policy itself.
There is a consistent need for actively bringing creative processes into policymaking and focusing more on creating valuable outcomes for citizens than only on projected and programmed outputs. Yet innovation introduces a different way of knowing (or not knowing), exploring and planning into governance which create tensions with the status quo.
This paper by Nesta (UK) and MindLab (Denmark) aims to frame the discussion between policymakers, researchers and practitioners around the dilemmas and challenges involved in developing policymaking practices that can respond productively to the current crisis, state of uncertainty and wicked character of public problems. This creates the need for exploring and establishing new principles of decision making inspired by digital technology, social sciences, scientific experimentation and the creative arts in order to frame different possibilities and expectations of what governments can and should achieve.
They identify this as a part of an emerging paradigm in public governance that is still interacting uncomfortably with existing administrative systems. The question is: what kind of processes are needed in order to create synergy rather than conflict between existing and new approaches to public governance?
Nesta is the UK's innovation foundation with a mission to help people and organisations bring great ideas to life. MindLab is a cross-ministerial innovation unit in the Danish Government that addresses public problems through a human-centred approach.