Andrea Siodmok – Policy Lab
This is an excellent reference post for two dimensions of policy design thinking.
The first part is a typology of government interventions (click on the image for a larger and more legible version), which prompts more rigorous thought about the nature of the design challenge in relation to the nature of the intended impact.
Slightly curiously, the vertical categories are described as being on a scale from ‘Low level intervention’ (stewardship) to ‘Large scale intervention’ (legislation). That’s a little simplistic. Some legislation is intended to have a very narrow effect; some attempts to influence – which look as though they belong in the ‘leader’ line – can have huge effects. But that’s a minor quibble, particularly as it is described as being still work in progress.
The second dimension is about the scale of design, from micro to macro. Thinking about it that way has the rather helpful effect of cutting off what has become a rather sterile debate about the place of service design in government. Service design is, of course, critically important, but it’s a dimension of a wider model of policy and design which doesn’t entail conflict between the layers.
Developing policy in government is hard; applying the perspectives and skills of service design can help. That’s the disarmingly simple premise of this post (and the new blog it comes from). If we understand where there are risks in developing policy, and understand the ways in which service design approaches can help mitigate those risks, then we should be able to get first to better policy and then, as a result, to more effective delivery. The aspiration is a good one and the potential benefit is large – but as Paul Maltby has described, there are some real obstacles to effective dialogue between the two perspectives which need to be overcome.
James Johnson – Design and Policy
Great practical advice on how to join policy and digital thinking together, applying the principle of going to where the user is – in this case the policy expert. Tracey writes with the empathy which comes from understanding both communities, and rightly reminds her digital audience of the merits of policy people – but also perpetuates two ideas, one tacit and one explicit, which risk hampering the ambition. The first is that policy people have much to learn from digital but digital people have little to learn from policy. The second is that the goal is for policy and digital to be recognised as being the same thing. Perhaps instead we can aim for inclusion while celebrating diversity.
Tracey Williams Allred – Medium
A useful ladder of intervention for policy makers, which refreshingly treats legislation as the last possible intervention, not the first. As with other Policy Lab products, its value comes from prompting better questions rather than from providing direct answers, so the ladder may seem more ordered than the real world of policy development tends to be – which doesn’t stop it being good food for thought.
But the post doesn’t really answer the question very firmly posed by its title, Paul Maltby’s post may be a better place to start for that.
Laurence Grinyer – Medium
If we are going to get smarter about how things get done in government, and in particular are serious about melding the strengths of the different tribes into a whole which is stronger than its parts, how do we make that happen.
This post lists seven principles for building a one team government community – and then invites people to sign up to join that community.
Kit Collingwood-Richardson – Medium
Following his post explaining policy people and processes to their digital equivalents, Paul Maltby has now written a deeply sympathetic but rightly challenging post about the frustrations digital has of policy and policy of digital – and what each side needs to learn from the other.
There is a core insight in each direction. Policy can learn much from the data driven, delivery focused model of digital service design and should be no less comfortable starting with the user need. Digital can gain from appreciating the need to understand and reconcile conflicting goals and interests and the basic principle that politics is our basic method for making public choices – and that digital is political too.
Paul Maltby – Medium
Published to coincide with this week’s One Team Government event, this is an excellent short guide to policy making in government. My only quibble is with its title: it’s addressed to government digital professionals, but that shouldn’t suggest to anybody else – including the policy professionals who are its subject – that they have nothing to gain from reading it.
Perhaps the most important insight it contains is that policy isn’t a single specific thing: good policy (and good policymakers) bring together a wide range of skills and disciplines to address some very different kinds of problems. The synthesis of all that is what we call policy – but the boundary between that and other approaches (not least, in this context, digital) is an artefact of language as much as it is a division of substance.
Paul Maltby – Medium
Paul Maltby asked on Twitter
The collected answers – crowd sourced in short order – make up an impressive list. It’s inevitably a bit uneven, but there is a lot of good stuff there, and it’s well worth dipping in to.
Paul Maltby (assisted by the crowd)
The desire to close the gap between policy and delivery is not exactly a new one. This post is both an account of what happens when a policy lead is embedded in a delivery team and an argument that moving towards a ‘one team’ approach gets better and cheaper results. Whether it’s helpful to describe the starting point as government being an ‘inexperienced customer’ is arguable, as is the assertion that only delivery people understand user needs, but that doesn’t stop the trajectory being an important one.
James Reeve – Skills Funding Agency