Dave Snowden

CASinGov 2: opening thoughts

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I made a promise yesterday to talk more about the questions posed by the Auditor General and to do so is probably more than one post.  It is also an issue of major importance.  The expectations of the welfare state are suffering in health, education and many other areas at the moment and the full effect of cutbacks has not yet been felt.  It is at least a possibility that we may be facing not a reduction in some services in the UK but the whole scale removal of many of them.  

Now to be clear, I am making an assumption here that the state has a role, and that rampant market capitalism, particularly that advocated by the Randinistas is evil, and I choose my words with care.  I'm happy to defend that on another occasion, but for the moment its a rock on which I want to build an argument.  The poor house, pictured, is not that distant a memory.

So let me open what will be at least two, if not more posts, by repeating and augmenting a phrase from The Children's Party Story, which I see as the essence of what we can contribute to this issue:

We manage the emergence of beneficial coherence, within attractors, within boundaries.  The only things we can manage are the probes, the boundaries and amplification/dampening of emergent patterns.  

That means fast feed back loops, fast responses and above all a policy of minimal stimulus to see what is possible.  It means that the role of government is to manage the boundary conditions, then create the conditions under which multiple parallel safe-to-fail experiments can reveal what is possible, and practical. &nbnbsp;Its not about trying to determine in advance what will work, but to create the circumstances in which unexpected results can emerge which provide create resilience and sustainability.

Now that is a radical switch, and one which also allows a partially constrained approach to developing local services in a contextually sustainable way.  It also means a focus on building networks that can not only solve problems, but can create solutions and feedback mechanisms.   It means a whole new approach to evidence based policy, something that my complex sub-domain typology seeks to define.   I'm building a table on systems v complexity in government based on this and that (possible as a narrative not a table) will form the basis of the next post.