The experimental government: opportunity to respond more quickly to changes in the future

'Government organizations are increasingly faced with complex social, economic and environmental problems in a society that is rapidly changing. New innovative approaches are needed to stay in tune with residents' needs and expectations.' - Karen Loosman, manager Public at Boer & Croon.

Karen BC Portretten Januari 2023 compressed 5

Karen Loosman started as Manager Public at Boer & Croon. In this role, she deals with social issues. Karen: 'As a government organization, it is important to experiment with new ideas and involve residents in all parts of the policy cycle and implementation. That way, as a government organization, you work on building trust, you increase the flexibility of the organization and changes connect with society. I have three tips in advance to explain how government organizations can work more innovatively.'

Create the future together with residents

Residents are experts
'Engage directly with residents and harness the power of their ideas. Residents are the experts who can help and inform government organizations on how to improve policy and implementation. In this way, government organizations find out what the question or need of residents is or what need they experience. And do developments connect better with society. Here it is important to pay attention to inclusion and diversity. On the one hand, government organizations thus ensure that all target groups are reached and that they also have equal access to public facilities. On the other hand, innovation is created precisely by bringing together diverse ideas, experiences and backgrounds.'

'In a position at the Ministry of the Interior, we developed new models for notifications about environmental permits. In developing these models, we involved a panel of residents who are low-literate. Their knowledge and experience gave us new insights on how we could make the models more responsive to groups in society who had difficulty reading and writing.'

Experiment with new ideas

'Government organizations often have long-term goals they want to achieve while the environment and demands of residents are constantly changing. As government organizations, by experimenting with new ideas and working iteratively, you ensure short-term results that bring this goal closer. This also means that you will face the uncertainty of experiments not working. For this reason, test and evaluate new ideas and learn from the experience you gain. Start small before tackling bigger.'

'At Schiphol, I worked in a department that continuously tests new ideas and works iteratively through design thinking techniques toward the long-term goal of Total Airport Management by 2027. The great added value of this way of working is that the department efficiently produces short-term results in line with Schiphol's highly dynamic environment.'

Prevent innovation from being hampered by bureaucracy

Overcome barriers
'Internal regulations, procedures and structures can hinder innovation in government organizations. Employees from government organizations who are in daily contact with residents often have good ideas for improvements. And at the top of government organizations, people often want to change as well. But because of the bureaucratic set-up of those organizations, it does not always succeed in integrating the ideas coming from below into policy measures. These barriers can be overcome by taking other approaches such as transformation teams and innovative networks between government organizations.'

'When I worked at the Ministry for the Interior and Kingdom Relations, I set up a national network for municipalities to share knowledge with each other. If a municipality had tried something, and it turned out to work well in practice, it would be shared with the other municipalities and also tested in other municipalities.'

Start with the experimental government

Starts experiments
'Do you work for a government organization eager to innovate and respond quickly to changes in the future? Then hopefully these three tips will give you tools to get started. If you want more information about experimental government feel free to contact us to talk through this.'

Connecting role

Bringing closer together
'In my work, I am motivated to work on societal challenges. It is my mission to play a connecting role in this and to bring different groups in society and government closer together. Boer & Croon has extensive experience in the public sector and gives me the space to contribute to this and further develop myself in this area.'