You didn’t hear it here first…

The Tangled and the Trapped

This post neatly captures and crystallises ideas which – as the title acknowledges – aren’t themselves new but have been overshadowed by the dominance of a transaction-focused mentality in much government service design. Sometimes, of course, a transaction is exactly what we are talking about and making them simple and effective is the right thing to do. But often the underlying need is not for the (still necessary) transaction but for something deeper and better connected. Getting closer to that involves

learning when to transact, when to intervene and when to do the thing in the middle, support.

As the original emphasis suggest, the middle category, support, is the key to this. Examples such as Mark Smith’s work at Gateshead and the wider set in Hilary Cottam’s Radical Help show the value – in both effectivness and efficency – from looking at people and the support then need before looking at services and tests for eligibility.

There’s a lot or richness in this post about identifying and applying some simple principles for doing that effectively. But it brings out very clearly that however much the design of single services is improved, the impact will be severely attenuated if there is insufficient focus on the wider context.

One Comment

  1. I loved this. Our human tendency to see the extremes can often mean that we overlook the middle ground. Yet because people in this group aren’t the hardest to help – they should be easier to help. And if we help them then the risk that their circumstances worsen, is likely to be reduced

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