Stefan Blachfellner, BCSSS Managing Director, followed the personal invitation of The Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI) to the ‘Innovation in Government: Steps, leaps and bounds’ Conference, on 19th and 20th November 2018 in Paris, France at the headquarters of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

OPSI convened a group of international innovators, practitioners and leaders to make a valuable contribution to lively and informed discussion on the state of public sector innovation. The aim of the event was to build insight on the issues, technologies and forces shaping its forward trajectory and to propose a new model for understanding and organising innovation activity and explore how best to support it, across different domains. With the conference OPSI created a space for peers to consider new ideas together and strengthen connections within the international public sector innovation community. The event came at an important time in the European Union and OECD’s ongoing collaboration to foster a common agenda on public sector innovation across their member states and countries.

Stefan visited a session on “Behavioural Insights Toolkit and Ethical Guidelines for Policy Makers – Lessons from Around the World”, where results of the first-of-its-kind survey of behavioural insights units around the world were shared and discussed. “Behavioural insights” derived from the behavioural and social sciences, including decision making, psychology, cognitive science, neuroscience, organisational and group behaviour, are being applied by governments with the aim of making public policies work better. As their use has become more widespread, however, questions are being raised about their effectiveness as well as their philosophical underpinnings. A report discusses the use and reach of behavioural insights, drawing on a comprehensive collection of over 100 applications across the world and policy sectors, including consumer protection, education, energy, environment, finance, health and safety, labour market policies, public service delivery, taxes and telecommunications. It suggests ways to ensure that this experimental approach can be successfully and sustainably used as a public policy tool. Thus, a toolkit was invented, which is also available online.

OPSI also developed the Toolkit Navigator, a web resource offering self-service guidance to public sector staff and policymakers on existing methods and toolkits, as well as related case studies, peer connections, and capacity building resources based on their specific needs and contexts. Another interesting invention of the OPSI is the so called public sector innovation facets model, to assist governments to better conceptualise and manage ‘multi-faceted’ innovation, and to prompt governments to think about why they are innovating and whether they are using the right mix of approaches to achieve their innovation aims.

The report of the entire conference is freely accessible.

Systems Thinking in Public Sector Innovation plays a key role, with the demand to make systems thinking, its theories, epistemologies and methodologies accessible and feasable beyond the academic domains. Stefan established promising relations and further collaboration with OPSI may start in the upcoming year.

Stefan, furthermore, brought an invitation from Paris to actively engage with a Crowd Sourcing Project. The project “OECD Declaration on Public Sector Innovation – Public Consultation Open through 22 February” seeks to comment and input on the draft text of a Declaration on Public Sector Innovation. The consultation process will be open until Friday 22 February 2019 and you can contribute on the collaborative consultation platform, Madison.