Today Nesta hosted a Ministerial announcement of the What Works Centres. These new centres will help improve the evidence used in decision making across a number of key policy areas.
The recent Obama campaign has been heralded as one of the greatest community organising efforts of all time. Now that we are seeing the benefits of involving citizens more in services and decision making that affects them, what can we learn from what Obama has done to galvanise individuals and communities?
This blog introduces Nesta's Standards of Evidence, developed to test whether the products and services Nesta Impact Investments fund make a positive difference. This new approach aims to bring impact measurement in line with academically recognised levels of rigour, whilst managing to ensure measurement is appropriate to the growth trajectory of the products and services we invest in.
At Nesta we are interested in exploring how rigorous evidence can be better used to drive innovation. Part of this is being able to identify the most effective policies and programmes. Yet the thing we find striking is how little is known about the actual mechanisms that can effectively ensure evidence is useful and useable for decision makers. In other words, what works in helping identify what is working?
The old saying ‘prevention is better than cure’ is frequently used to make the case for more preventive investment across our public services. This sounds intuitively sensible. Why let harm run its course when it could be avoided? But is preventing harm really always the right thing to do?
Last week we argued for a NICE for social policy to be developed. Today Government announces plans to open up policy from outside Whitehall to help find “what works”, involving exploring the creation of new evidence centres.
Many claim to be seeking "what works" when looking for the solutions that will meet certain social goals. This quest for evidence-based policies, programmes and practice has gained a renewed momentum, with the Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Haywood's calls for a "NICE for social policy" and the forthcoming creation of an Early Intervention Foundation. Yet we don't want "what works". What works is bad for innovation, and by extension, bad for service users.
The high walls, clanging bars, key chains, security tags, air locked doors, rows of barbed wire, and yet more security checks, are not the usual start when you head out for lunch on a Tuesday. But then the Clink Prison Restaurant is far from ordinary.
Evidence-based decision making and rigorous evaluation of social policy is vital to developing radical, innovative solutions to the problems facing society today.
As cuts are made and pressure on public services mounts, it is increasingly recognised that charities, voluntary groups and enterprises will be central in creating the public services of the future.
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