Book by Steven Johnson: “Big, life-altering decisions matter so much more than the decisions we make every day, and they’re also the most difficult: where to live, whom to marry, what to believe, whether to start a company, how to end a war. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach for addressing these kinds of conundrums.

Steven Johnson’s classic Where Good Ideas Come From inspired creative people all over the world with new ways of thinking about innovation. In Farsighted, he uncovers powerful tools for honing the important skill of complex decision-making. While you can’t model a once-in-a-lifetime choice, you can model the deliberative tactics of expert decision-makers. These experts aren’t just the master strategists running major companies or negotiating high-level diplomacy. They’re the novelists who draw out the complexity of their characters’ inner lives, the city officials who secure long-term water supplies, and the scientists who reckon with future challenges most of us haven’t even imagined. The smartest decision-makers don’t go with their guts. Their success relies on having a future-oriented approach and the ability to consider all their options in a creative, productive way.

Through compelling stories that reveal surprising insights, Johnson explains how we can most effectively approach the choices that can chart the course of a life, an organization, or a civilization. Farsighted will help you imagine your possible futures and appreciate the subtle intelligence of the choices that shaped our broader social history….(More)”.

The rise of policy innovation labs: A catalog of policy innovation labs across Canada

Report by the Centre for Policy Innovation and Public Engagement (CPIPE): “In recent years, governments all over the world have been embracing new and innovative ways to develop public policies and design public services, from crowdsourcing to human-centred design thinking. This trend in government innovation has led to the rise of the Policy Innovation Lab (PIL): individual units, both inside and outside of government, that apply the traditional principles of scientific laboratories – experimentation, testing, and measurement – to social problems.

PILs are an increasingly important development in public policy making, with a variety of methods and approaches to building relationships between governments, organizations, and citizens, and generating ideas and designing policy. Yet, these labs are under-researched: many are established without a full understanding of their role and value to the policy community. We aim to address this knowledge gap, and create opportunities where policy innovators can make connections with their peers and learn about the current practices and applications of policy innovation from one another.

This report identifies the innovation labs in Canada, profiling their methodologies, projects, and partners, mapping the policy innovation landscape across the country. Each one-page summary provides a profile for each lab, and highlights the existing innovation practices and networks in the public, academic, non-profit, and private sectors, and identifies methodological and ideological trends across the different labs and networks.

This report is the first of its kind in North America. In this highly dynamic space, new labs are emerging and disappearing all the time. The purpose of this report is to put a spotlight on policy innovations and their successes, and to build and strengthen connections between researchers, policymakers, and policy innovators. Through a strengthened and sustained community of practice, we hope to see governments continue to embrace new approaches for effective policymaking…(More)”.

The rise of public sector innovation labs: experiments in design thinking for policy

Paper by Michael McGann, Emma Blomkamp and Jenny M. Lewis in Policy Sciences: “Governments are increasingly turning to public sector innovation (PSI) labs to take new approaches to policy and service design. This turn towards PSI labs, which has accelerated in more recent years, has been linked to a number of trends. These include growing interest in evidence-based policymaking and the application of ‘design thinking’ to policymaking, although these trends sit uncomfortably together. According to their proponents, PSI labs are helping to create a new era of experimental government and rapid experimentation in policy design.

But what do these PSI labs do? How do they differ from other public sector change agents and policy actors? What approaches do they bring to addressing contemporary policymaking? And how do they relate to other developments in policy design such as the growing interest in evidence-based policy and design experiments? The rise of PSI labs has thus far received little attention from policy scientists. Focusing on the problems associated with conceptualising PSI labs and clearly situating them in the policy process, this paper provides an analysis of some of the most prominent PSI labs. It examines whether labs can be classified into distinct types, their relationship to government and other policy actors and the principal methodological practices and commitments underpinning their approach to policymaking. Throughout, the paper considers how the rise of PSI labs may challenge positivist framings of policymaking as an empirically driven decision process….(More)”.

From #Resistance to #Reimagining governance

Stefaan G. Verhulst in Open Democracy: “…There is no doubt that #Resistance (and its associated movements) holds genuine transformative potential. But for the change it brings to be meaningful (and positive), we need to ask the question: What kind of government do we really want?

Working to maintain the status quo or simply returning to, for instance, a pre-Trump reality cannot provide for the change we need to counter the decline in trust, the rise of populism and the complex social, economic and cultural problems we face. We need a clear articulation of alternatives.  Without such an articulation, there is a danger of a certain hollowness and dispersion of energies. The call for #Resistance requires a more concrete –and ultimately more productive – program that is concerned not just with rejecting or tearing down, but with building up new institutions and governance processes. What’s needed, in short, is not simply #Resistance.

Below, I suggest six shifts that can help us reimagine governance for the twenty-first century. Several of these shifts are enabled by recent technological changes (e.g., the advent of big data, blockchain and collective intelligence) as well as other emerging methods such as design thinking, behavioral economics, and agile development.

Some of the shifts I suggest have been experimented with, but they have often been developed in an ad hoc manner without a full understanding of how they could make a more systemic impact. Part of the purpose of this paper is to begin the process of a more systematic enquiry; the following amounts to a preliminary outline or blueprint for reimagined governance for the twenty-first century.

Screen Shot 2017-12-14 at 1.21.29 PM

  • Shift 1: from gatekeeper to platform…
  • Shift 2: from inward to user-and-problem orientation…
  • Shift 3: from closed to open…
  • Shift 4: from deliberation to collaboration and co-creation…
  • Shift 5: from ideology to evidence-based…
  • Shift 6: from centralized to distributed… (More)

Understanding Design Thinking, Lean, and Agile

Free ebook by Jonny Schneider: “Highly touted methodologies, such as Agile, Lean, and Design Thinking, leave many organizations bamboozled by an unprecedented array of processes, tools, and methods for digital product development. Many teams meet their peril trying to make sense of these options. How do the methods fit together to achieve the right outcome? What’s the best approach for your circumstances?

In this insightful report, Jonny Schneider from ThoughtWorks shows you how to diagnose your situation, understand where you need more insight to move forward, and then choose from a range of tactics that can move your team closer to clarity.

Blindly applying any model, framework, or method seldom delivers the desired result. Agile began as a better answer for delivering software. Lean focuses on product success. And Design Thinking is an approach for exploring opportunities and problems to solve. This report shows you how to evaluate your situation before committing to one, two, or all three of these techniques.

  • Understand how design thinking, the lean movement, and agile software development can make a difference
  • Define your beliefs and assumptions as well as your strategy
  • Diagnose the current condition and explore possible futures
  • Decide what to learn, and how to learn it, through fast research and experimentation
  • Decentralize decisions with purpose-driven, collaborative teams
  • Prioritize and measure value by responding to customer demand…(More)”

Spotting the Patterns: 2017 Trends in Design Thinking

Andy Hagerman at Stanford Social Innovation Review: “Design thinking: It started as an academic theory in the 60’s, a notion of starting to look at broader types of challenges with the intention and creativity that designers use to tackle their work. It gained widespread traction as a product design process, has been integrated into culture change initiatives of some of the world’s most important organizations and governments, and has been taught in schools kindergarten to grad school. It’s been celebrated, criticized, merged with other methodologies, and modified for nearly every conceivable niche.

Regardless of what side of those perspectives you fall on, it’s undeniable that design thinking is continuing to grow and evolve. Looking across the social innovation landscape today, we see a few patterns that, taken together, suggest that social innovators continue to see great promise in design thinking. They are working to find ways to make it yield real performance gains for their organizations and clients.

From design thinking to design doing

Creative leaders have moved beyond increasing people’s awareness of design thinking to actively seeking concrete opportunities for using it. One of the principal drivers of this shift has been the need to demonstrate value and return on investment from design-thinking initiatives—something people have talked about for years. (Ever heard the question, “Is design thinking just the next fad?”) Social sector organizations, in particular, stand to benefit from the shift from design thinking to design doing. Timelines for getting things built in the social sector are often slow, due to legitimate constraints of responsibly doing impact work, as well as to legacy practices and politics. As long as organizations use design thinking responsibly and acknowledge the broader systems in which new ideas live, some of the emerging models can help them move projects along more quickly and gain greater stakeholder participation….

Building cultures around design thinking

As design thinking has proliferated, many organizational leaders have moved from replicating the design thinking programs of academic institutions like the Stanford d.School or foundational agencies like IDEO to adapting the methodology to their own goals, external environments, and organizational cultures.

One organization that has particularly inspired us is Beespace, a New York City-based social-impact foundation. Beespace has designed a two-year program that helps new organizations not only get off the ground, but also create the conditions for breakthrough innovation. To create this program, which combines deep thinking, impact assessment, and rapid prototyping, Beespace’s leadership asked itself what tools it would need, and came up with a mix that included not just design thinking, but also disciplines of behavioral science and systems thinking, and tools stemming from emotional intelligence and theory of change….

Empowering the few to shift the many

We have seen a lot of interest this year in “train the trainer” programs, particularly from organizations realizing the value of developing their internal capabilities to reduce reliance on outside consultants. Such development often entails focusing on the few people in the organization who are highly capable of instigating major change, as opposed to spreading awareness among the many. It takes time and resources, but the payoff is well worth it from both cultural and operational perspectives….(More)”.

“Nudge units” – where they came from and what they can do

Zeina Afif at the Worldbank: “You could say that the first one began in 2009, when the US government recruited Cass Sunstein to head The Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) to streamline regulations. In 2010, the UK established the first Behavioural Insights Unit (BIT) on a trial basis, under the Cabinet Office. Other countries followed suit, including the US, Australia, Canada, Netherlands, and Germany. Shortly after, countries such as India, Indonesia, Peru, Singapore, and many others started exploring the application of behavioral insights to their policies and programs. International institutions such as the World Bank, UN agencies, OECD, and EU have also established behavioral insights units to support their programs. And just this month, the Sustainable Energy Authority of Ireland launched its own Behavioral Economics Unit.

The Future
As eMBeD, the behavioral science unit at the World Bank, continues to support governments across the globe in the implementation of their units, here are some common questions we often get asked.

What are the models for a Behavioral Insights Unit in Government?
As of today, over a dozen countries have integrated behavioral insights with their operations. While there is not one model to prescribe, the setup varies from centralized or decentralized to networked….

In some countries, the units were first established at the ministerial level. One example is MineduLab in Peru, which was set up with eMBeD’s help. The unit works as an innovation lab, testing rigorous and leading research in education and behavioral science to address issues such as teacher absenteeism and motivation, parents’ engagement, and student performance….

What should be the structure of the team?
Most units start with two to four full-time staff. Profiles include policy advisors, social psychologists, experimental economists, and behavioral scientists. Experience in the public sector is essential to navigate the government and build support. It is also important to have staff familiar with designing and running experiments. Other important skills include psychology, social psychology, anthropology, design thinking, and marketing. While these skills are not always readily available in the public sector, it is important to note that all behavioral insights units partnered with academics and experts in the field.

The U.S. team, originally called the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team, is staffed mostly by seconded academic faculty, researchers, and other departmental staff. MineduLab in Peru partnered with leading experts, including the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), Fortalecimiento de la Gestión de la Educación (FORGE), Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), and the World Bank….(More)”

Introducing the Digital Policy Model Canvas

Blog by Stefaan Verhulst: “…Yesterday, the National Digital Policy Network of the World Economic Forum, of which I am a member,  released a White Paper aimed at facilitating this process. The paper, entitled “Digital Policy Playbook 2017: Approaches to National Digital Governance,”  examines a number of case studies from around the world to develop a “playbook” that can help leaders in designing digital policies that maximize the forthcoming opportunities and effectively meet the challenges. It is the result of a series of extensive discussions and consultations held around the world, over , and attended by leading experts from various sectors and geographies…..

How can such insights be translated into a practical and pragmatic approach to policymaking? In order to find implementable solutions, we sought to develop a “Digital Policy Model Canvas” that would guide policy makers to derive specific policies and regulatory mechanisms in an agile and iterative manner – integrating both design thinking and evidence based policy making. This notion of a canvas is borrowed from the business world. For example, in Business Model Generation: A Handbook for Visionaries, Game Changers, and Challengers, Alexander Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur introduce the idea of a “Business Model Canvas” to generate new, innovative business models that can help companies–and others–go beyond legacy systems and approaches.

Applying this approach to the world of digital policymaking and innovation, we arrive at the “Digital Policy Model Canvas” represented in the accompanying figure.

Screen Shot 2017-09-22 at 6.08.24 AM

The design and implementation of such a canvas can be applied to a specific problem and/or geographic context, and would include the following steps…(More)”.

Design Thinking Approach to Ethical (Responsible) Technological Innovation

Chapter by Ganesh Nathan in Responsible Research and Innovation: From Concepts to Practices, (eds.) R. Gianni, J. Pearson and B. Reber, Routledge: “There is growing interest and importance for responsible research and innovation (RRI) among academic scholars and policy makers, especially, in relation to emerging technologies such as nanotechnology. It is also to be noted that, although the design thinking approach has been around since 1960s, there is renewed interest in this approach to innovation with an increasing number of related publications over the last couple of decades. Furthermore, it is currently introduced in a number of schools and community projects. However, there is a gap in bridging design thinking approach to RRI and this chapter attempts to address this need.

This chapter aims to show that design thinking approach is potentially conducive to ethical (responsible) technological innovation especially within emerging and converging technologies, due to its emphasis on human-centered design and other core attributes such as empathy – although it poses many challenges to implement….(More)”.

Bridging Governments’ Borders

Robyn Scott & Lisa Witter at SSIR: “…Our research found that “disconnection” falls into five, negatively reinforcing categories in the public sector; a closer look at these categories may help policy makers see the challenge before them more clearly:

1. Disconnected Governments

There is a truism in politics and government that all policy is local and context-dependent. Whether this was ever an accurate statement is questionable; it is certainly no longer. While all policy must ultimately be customized for local conditions, it absurd to assume there is little or nothing to learn from other countries. Three trends, in fact, indicate that solutions will become increasingly fungible between countries…..

2. Disconnected Issues

What climate change policy can endure without a job-creation strategy? What sensible criminal justice reform does not consider education? Yet even within countries, departments and their employees often remain as foreign to each other as do nations….

3. Disconnected Public Servants

The isolation of governments, and of government departments, is caused by and reinforces the isolation of people working in government, who have few incentives—and plenty of disincentives—to share what they are working on…..

4. Disconnected Citizens

…There are areas of increasingly visible progress in bridging the disconnections of government, citizen engagement being one. We’re still in the early stages, but private sector fashions such as human-centered design and design thinking have become government buzzwords. And platforms enabling new types of citizen engagement—from participatory budgeting to apps that people use to report potholes—are increasingly popping up around the world…..

5. Disconnected Ideas

According to the World Bank’s own data, one third of its reports are never read, even once. Foundations and academia pour tens of millions of dollars into policy research with few targeted channels to reach policymakers; they also tend to produce and deliver information in formats that policymakers don’t find useful. People in government, like everyone else, are frequently on their mobile phones, and short of time….(More)”