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The Art of Exit

How should public services be shut down or decommissioned? This report looks at real-life examples.

How should public services be shut down or decommissioned? This report looks at real-life examples.

Key findings:

  • If we trust in innovation as the driver of growth, we also need as careful and creative an approach to disinvesting from older, less effective solutions.
  • The case studies in this research report offer insights into how decommissioning can be managed more creatively.
  • We want to continue to build and develop this knowledge, as public services come to learn the art of exit.

The landscape for public services is changing rapidly. In the context of significant and sustained reductions in public spending, changing public expectations and rising demand, those who design and deliver public services have to contend with a very different set of circumstances in which to innovate.

 

They will also need to become more adept at creative decommissioning – taking resources out of less effective approaches in order to reinvest elsewhere.

 

This research report confronts a more disruptive side to public services innovation - how to shut down or decommission what is already in place. Having looked at examples from all over the world where there have been efforts to decommission and innovate, the report presents a new model for truly transformational public innovation and includes lessons for practitioners and policymakers on how to navigate this difficult and contentious space.

 

The research is based on a quantitative survey of over 200 public leaders from local government and health organisations on current drivers and approaches to decommissioning, qualitative analysis of over 60 cases of decommissioning in public services including interviews with key stakeholders, and interviews with informants with a range of perspectives on the issues.

 

Authors
Laura Bunt and Charles Leadbeater

Authors

Laura Bunt

Laura Bunt

Laura Bunt

Lead Policy Advisor, Public and Social Innovation

Laura was Nesta'’s lead policy advisor for public and social innovation until November 2013. She joined Nesta's Policy and Research team in 2009 focusing on social innovation and inn...

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