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What should the 'What Works Network' do?

This paper recommends five things the What Works centres need to do to ensure they maximise their impact, and avoid the mistakes of past evidence initiatives.

This paper recommends five things the What Works centres need to do to ensure they maximise their impact, and avoid the mistakes of past evidence initiatives.

Key findings

 

The What Works centres should:

  • Consider all relevant kinds of evidence. This includes communicating what doesn’t work as well as what does – and not shying away from being blunt.
  • Involve the likely users of evidence in the shaping of work programmes, prioritisation and governance.
  • Try to influence the creation of new evidence – to ensure it addresses live compelling problems. Evidence also needs to support innovation and experiment – not crush it.
  • Be ready to adapt – the What Works Network should reflect on its own impact, learn from the evidence about evidence, and respond to what is and isn’t effective.

In March 2013, Nesta hosted the launch of the What Works Network. Led by the ESRC, Cabinet Office and the Big Lottery Fund, these new centres have the ambitious task of improving the links between the supply, demand, and use of evidence in policymaking. These will complement existing bodies – NICE in health, and the Education Endowment Foundation in schools, orchestrating evidence across the areas of ageing, early intervention, policing and local economic growth. 

 

This short paper recommends five ways that the What Works centres can maximise their impact, and avoid the mistakes of past evidence initiatives, which were often overly focused on supply rather than use, and on academic research to the exclusion of other types of evidence.

 

Authors

Ruth Puttick and Geoff Mulgan

Authors

Geoff Mulgan

Geoff Mulgan

Geoff Mulgan

Chief Executive Officer

Geoff Mulgan has been Chief Executive of Nesta since 2011. Nesta is the UK's innovation foundation and runs a wide range of activities in investment, practical innovation and research.

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Ruth Puttick

Ruth Puttick

Ruth Puttick

Principal Researcher - Public and Social Innovation

Ruth was Principal Researcher for public and social innovation. Ruth joined the Nesta policy and research team in 2009, working on a range of projects across innovation, investment a...

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