A quick and simple public sector reform to save money
The innovation I am proposing is – don’t do anything new – import things from other areas – exhaust all possibilities before starting from scratch – if it is needed it probably exists already.
We have a culture of showcasing our good work and covering up our mistakes – we feel our reputation may be damaged if we share the experiences of getting it wrong, and yet I think if we shared our experiences warts and all, millions of pounds could be saved across the country. Delivering new services in tried and tested ways is the most efficient thing to do. It is about exchanging and unselfishly bringing about social change.
We know that projects are most inefficient at the beginning, cost more and achieve less – it takes at least a year, to test, trial fail and learn how to deliver – then we get really good at it. In other parts of the country people are also testing, trialling failing and learning and getting good.
It’s widely acknowledged that there are pockets of good practice – there are lots of them, all over the place. The clever trick is to take the learning and the efficiencies and transplant them into other areas, so that they could benefit.
The constant drive for innovation is tiring and unnecessary – we should prohibit it for a year and see how we get on. The tendency to overcomplicate matters to save money is normal but some solutions are so simple .
I listened to Sir Michael Marmot describe his findings in the review of Health Inequalities and he correctly identified that people were doing many good things in various places – yet no-one asked how do we replicate. People agree they should ‘share good practice’ – one of the most overused phrases in the Health and Social Care Sector and probably other sectors too – yet no-one really imports good-practice from other areas. I have yet to see anyone else benefit in practical terms from other peoples learning, development, successes and failures and be willing to share their own.
If we want to make cost savings, become efficient and deliver tested effective services then it’s time to stop innovating.
Vicki, couldn’t agree more
I would tentatively agree that we should be reluctant to innovate unless we have exhausted proven alternatives. I think your second paragraph highlights the problem with this. People seem to find it really hard to fail.
We’ve all experienced projects and innovations that didn’t achieve anything like the thing we set out to do. We know that as projects get written up and as time passes our memories credit an unrealistic level of success to some of the flimsiest initiatives.
Given that the public sector encourages a climate of constant success there is an understandable reluctance to take on other people’s projects.
We need to develop an environment where people can hold their hands up and say “that didn’t work” without fear of ending their careers.
Honesty should be rewarded rather than a distorted interpretation of success.