Tuesday, November 25, 2014

GovInnovate Day 1: Government must do more than tinker around the edges

This morning at GovInnovate 2014 we heard a keynote from Dominic Campbell, founder and CEO of FutureGov.
Dominic made a strong point that governments can't continue to cut 5% from their costs each year and expect to continue to improve service delivery.

He said that ultimately this strategy would stop agencies from being able to deliver effectively services, potentially resulting in disastrous collapses, social damage and even deaths.

As such, Dominic suggested that governments needed to invest in redesigning their service delivery from end-to-end, employing a design-based process and codesign principles to involve the people who receive the services in the conceptual design of how the service is access and delivered.

As an example, Dominic pointed to the Casserole system his company had codesigned as a replacement to increasingly costly and unviable 'meals on wheels' services.

Taking a transactional approach, Casserole recognised that meal delivery was based on supply and demand. Some people wanted to eat, while some had surplus food or enjoyed to cook - what they had to do was design a system to connect the two groups in a mutually beneficial way.

Using a codesign approach, FutureGov developed Casserole to connect home cooks with people needing food provision.

Casserole was developed without the involvement of government, initially prototyping on a single street. It subsequently expanded to a council region and now extends across many council regions in the UK - to the places where it is wanted and needed.

Over 5,000 cooks are now registered with the system, with relationships between food provider and receiver having lasted up to three years so far.
The keys to the success of the service were the inclusion of users in the design process and the elegant design of the solution, which respects users and makes it as easy as possible to access and use.

The project has had side social benefits as well, fostering strong relationships between people which improves their quality of life.

Dominic believes that this kind of design process, involving the 'relentless exposure of bureaucrats to communities' will lead to far better services for citizens, delivered at lower costs to governments.
However they do not naturally evolve from a progressive cost-reduction approach. They require a reinvention of government services.

In conclusion Dominic pointed out that the community is done waiting for government and increasingly looking for alternative solutions to meet its needs.

If government doesn't get on this curve, it will become increasingly ineffective and irrelevant, undermining the supposed 'efficiency' of reduced cost through degraded service delivery.

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