Visiting SITRA: the value of consensus for change
I recently took part in an event with SITRA, Nesta’s sister agency in Finland, which has for 50 years pioneered investment in innovation of all kinds.
Their latest project proposed new ways for government to be organised to improve its strategic ability, to join up across silos and adapt more quickly to change. They also gathered politicians from all the main parties to discuss the proposals, as well as journalists, and appear to have brought together a consensus.
In many countries, horizons have shrunk inwards since the financial crisis. I’m not aware of any comparable debate in the UK amongst the main parties about how to reshape government to fit the needs of the times rather than tactical convenience.
The paper I wrote earlier this year on options for restructuring centres of government has had a lot of engagement from around the world – and interesting discussions with plenty of civil servants in the UK (via IFG, the Better Government Initiative and others), though not much from politicians and the commentariat.
The machinery of government can be quite a boring topic, and politicians and journalists tend to be rather individualist creatures, and consequently uninterested in how big systems actually work. But they matter. If you don’t get the machinery right, you’re unlikely to get the results you want.
Photo: Caelie Frampton on Flickr CC