Using the innovation scale: 3 examples

After calling for a more honest approach to degrees of innovation in public service reform, and so about what it ultimately can deliver and achieve, I shared some initial thoughts on what a public service reform innovation scale might look like.

As a reminder: the reason for this was because I think it’s useful to know the degree to which something is innovative or whether it is, for example, something that actually replicates practice in another area; or is something that is supposed to be done anyway; or perhaps something using a different mechanism to what is found in other places.

The suggested innovation scale has three axes: Scale (i.e. size), Known and Sector.

To help bring it to life, below are three examples of “innovation” and where I think they might lie respectively within the innovation scale.

Example 1: Using Twitter

Innovation Scale - Twitter

This example is included to help orientate people within the innovation scale. Twitter, as a communications tool within public services, is used nearly everywhere (Scale), Known to virtually everyone and is used across all Sectors. Thus, to speak of Twitter as “innovative” in public services would seem, and is, a bit of a nonsense.

Example 2: Personal Budgets

Innovation Scale - Personal Budgets

Personal Budgets are very well Known about, especially in adult social care, and the principle of them is starting to be seen in other Sectors of public service, notably health and employment. Nevertheless, the Scale at which Personal Budgets exist still isn’t especially large. In this sense, then, Personal Budgets aren’t innovative; equally, something is happening such that they aren’t being adopted to the extent that it is hoped they would be.

Example 3: Alliance contracting

Innovation Scale - Alliance contracting

Alliance contracting is something that is relatively new in public services. It is only happening in a couple of places (Scale) and is relatively unKnown. What’s more, it’s primarily happening only in adult social care Sector at the moment. Thus, according to the suggested innovation scale, alliance contracting is innovative.

These examples hopefully give a flavour of how the innovation scale may be useful. In the next (and final) post on innovation, I’ll share an overall way of thinking about degrees and innovation and how it relates to other forms of change in public service reform.


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Man of letters & numbers; also occasionally of action. Husband to NTW. Dad of three. Friendly geek.

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