Call for action: ten lessons for local authority innovators

Politics Great Britain

This publication shares 10 lessons on how to create innovative change in local government from the Creative Councils programme.

Key findings

  • New approaches are needed for costly social challenges posed by long–term youth unemployment and vulnerable families often living in places that feel as if they have been going backwards for decades.
  • To create the space for alternative solutions to emerge, an essential first step is to adopt different vantage points.
  • Unless councils can think differently and more creatively about risk, the odds of even the best idea making it from a Post–it note and into reality are not high. 

Local government is in a trap. It needs to do more with less. The only way to pull off this trick is by working very differently with public services, communities and users to achieve better outcomes. And yet the radical innovation this implies often excites opposition – from users, citizens, politicians and staff – and that in turn entrenches the status quo.

Yet strategies for escaping the trap are emerging all over the sector, and some of the best examples can be found in the Creative Councils programme that has been run jointly by Nesta and the Local Government Association over the past three years.

We can draw insights about the main ingredients needed for a successful innovation journey. Some of these ingredients will be familiar – the right kind of leadership, the ability to manage risk – but some less so. We have presented these insights in the form of ten lessons about innovating in the sector. These lessons aren’t the last word – but we hope that the insights they contain will act as a spur to innovators up and down the country who are trying to escape the trap.

Authors: Sophia Parker and Charles Leadbeater

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