Policy innovation at work

Today I’ll present a timely example and, I hope, an inspiring glimpse of how European policy-making actually works. It goes like this: On 4 July, economics professor Mariana Mazzucato spoke in Helsinki about the mission-oriented approach to research and innovation that the Union should adopt. Questions will come readily to your mind: Why now? Why there? Why she? And of course: So what? Let’s go through.

Innovation is a hostile act

For many good reasons, innovation is widely appreciated as a positive force, as the driver for progress and prosperity. But make no mistake: innovation has serious downsides, at least for some, at least sometimes. Even though these negative impacts are far outweighed by the positive effects, they are the source of considerable push-back and utter resistance to innovation. And it would be too easy to dismiss justified concerns as irrational, dump, backwards-oriented, or fear-mongering. It’s time to cast some light on the hostility even the best intended innovator might be faced with. It’s time to acknowledge that innovation itself is a hostile act. Here’s why.

Reinventing time

The times they are a-changin’. This Bob Dylan song has a deeper meaning than we usually realise. For our sense of time, of the pace and direction of its flow, transformed several times in human history. And this perception is undergoing significant changes again today. So here’s a short story about our sense of time, how it evolved, and how it shapes our liberties and certainties.

Embrace the seeming paradox!

Let’s face it: your problems are like spoiled brats, just too willing to misbehave. And they can easily afford to be ill-tempered, irrational, incoherent, inconsistent. However, you cannot. Not as an individual, not as a leader, not as an organisation. For you must uphold some level of coherence and consistency to maintain your credibility (and I would add: your self-esteem). How can you achieve that goal if your problems obviously don’t play fair?

Reading the map – East or West?

The Cynefin framework is a sense-making model that can serve as a map to give you some orientation in challenging situations of decision-making or problem-solving. Recently, I took a closer look at how you could read this map and why it is prudent to avoid the Southern domains. Today, I’ll investigate the main differences between the Eastern and the Western domains and how those will affect your chances of success.