Harry Vos

Good services can support bad policies, and bad services can support good policies. It's messy

Collaboration Policy Systems Service failure

Why this matters

Recognising this will help digital specialists and policy makers in public service to set more realistic expectations when trying to collaborate. Before we attempt this form of collaboration, we should challenge our assumptions by asking, "To what extent is service failure limiting the policy outcomes?" and "To what extent is service failure caused by bad policy?"

Collaboration is often helpful, but not always

I previously blogged about the need for digital people to be humble when trying to influence policy makers. I wrote that service failure is just one of many contributors to wider system failure.

In fact, there are services that are impossibly difficult for users, but help deliver policies that have a very positive impact on people and our planet. In this situation, unless we can show that service failure is stopping the policy from having an even greater impact, a policy maker is not going to be interested in collaborating with digital people.

Conversely, there are services that are simple for users, but support policies that have a very negative impact on people and our planet. In this situation, what is it that digital people are hoping to help policy makers with?

Combinations of good and bad policies and services

Good service Bad service
Good policy 😀 people + planet 🙂 users 😀 people + planet 😩 users
Bad policy 😭 people + planet 🙂 users 😭 people + planet 😩 users

Which box might you be in?

As this is quite an abstract model, some examples would help to either illustrate it or to challenge it. I hope this will help us get better at identifying where this form of collaboration is most useful. While I'm a civil servant, it's not my place to point out bad policies or bad services. If you're reading this and feel able to, please tweet me your examples.

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