Innovation and recession and the RSA

3 Mar 2009 by Karl Hallam

There are some fears that the recession endangers innovative approaches to public service delivery. Matthew Taylor of the RSA makes the opposing point well this week in his must-read blog.

He argues that:

'We need to be encouraging an intensified process of innovation in public services, designed to find ways of doing the same, or more, for less. There are many organisations out there, from Participle to Think Public to the Design Council (indeed the RSA itself) with expertise in citizen-led public sector innovation, but their work still tends to be at the margins'.

Crucially he adds that:

'They need to be given more support and be incentivised to collaborate better'.

He goes on to talk about how government should be doing this and makes a point that just does not get enough thought in the day to day public discourse on public services:

'The creative question here is how could the actions of citizens themselves reduce spending pressures and enhance service outcomes?'

Matthew has been saying this sort of thing for years. It's simple really, but maybe the media has a vested interest in not engaging with this question. It is so much more fun to blame Ministers and individuals like Sharon Shoesmith or Fred Goodwin for the recession or the broken society, rather than see our collective abdication of responsibility for many of the symptoms of current social concerns.

Matthew talks about more sensible ways of moving to, for example, 2 weekly bin collections. A similar argument could be made for better debates about reducing congestion or decreasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Much of Cadence's work with clients is directed towards focusing on untapping the knowledge at the front line that is so often neglected. Strategy-speak and delivery chain mechanisms often obscure the fundamentals of what, who, how, when and especially the why.

Matthew's blog is essentially optimistic and reminds us why.

Other Cadence posts on innovation.

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