Vicky is programme director Connected Local Government, manages the CLG Innovation Platform, is programme director for Better Connected for which she designed and developed She is a board director of Boilerhouse Communications Limited


Councils should make more use of pilots and trials to test innovative policy ideas


Christian Heilmann - Innovation Drive - November 2010

Producing The Goods – collaboration as the next frontier of productivity; a new report published by New Local Government Network, points the way to collaborative experimentation and innovation

The report, carried out in association with Norse Group and PPL, found that councils should trial new ideas on a small scale, evaluate their success, and move on to new ideas if they are not constructive.

The sector should then be less embarrassed about admitting failure, and better at sharing these examples of what does and does not work, to prevent unsuccessful ideas and pilots being repeated in other councils.

“Councils can potentially increase their productivity and their impact by working with others. We found lots of ways in which councils are already taking a fresh, innovative approach to collaboration and who they partner with said Lucy Terry, senior researcher at NLGN adding “But doing something new requires experimentation – and councils need to be able to test what works and be honest about cases where something doesn’t have an impact. This will ultimately benefit the whole of the sector.”

As local government comes under ever increasing financial pressures, councils must focus on squeezing more impact from every pound, while still providing quality services. The report focuses on ways they can do this in collaboration with others.

“The twin challenges of an ageing population and financial pressure facing the public sector today are well-known and extremely complex. For us, the key to increasing productivity is about working and thinking differently.” Said Claire Kennedy, Joint Managing Director at PPL.

Furthermore says Kennedy “Coproduction and collaboration are ways that organisations can work in partnership to enable more effective delivery, and to create the services that we need for the future.”

The research also found a number of other ways that councils could improve their collaboration to help productivity, including hosting ‘hack days’ with their employees to find ways to reform existing processes and make short-term productivity gains.

Local authorities, it is suggested, could start by mapping all the universal customer service providers in their areas, and identify who they could fruitfully collaborate with. And introduce ‘collaboration champions’ to lead in identifying new and unlikely partners, and co-ordinate insight into what is most effective.

Norse Sales Director Geoff Tucker explained that Norse Group work on delivering cost savings to local government partners had been achieved largely though increasing productivity, whilst preserving service standards.

“Collaboration has been one of the main drivers in improving efficiency, along with investment in innovation” said Tucker. “Those councils which embrace collaborative working and experimentation will undoubtedly reap the rewards in the long term.”

Download: Producing The Goods – collaboration as the next frontier of productivity here.  Report and download supported by Norse Group and PPL


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