INTRODUCTION: Celebrate the possible
Necessity is, of course, the mother of invention – and that’s as true in public services as any other field. We live in difficult times, but difficult times call for exciting and innovative thinking. The aim of this supplement is to draw attention to radical ideas that will help transform public services as they face their greatest challenges. We look at ways to fund innovation and discover the managers who have led successful projects. This is, after all, a celebration of the possible. The Guardian has a long tradition of supporting the best and most innovative in the public sector. Its annual showcase of the brightest projects, the Public Services Awards, highlights the variety, passion and ingenuity of those in public service. So what should the next steps be for those keen to innovate? Rigorously designed, practical trials are important, but probably more important now is the wider dissemination of knowledge about innovation, about which methods work – and which don’t. There are still too many small pockets of innovation – and only the public sector itself has the machinery to scale up small projects to a national level. It’s vital we get this right. That doesn’t mean we should be frightened of failure; on the contrary, everyone agrees that tolerating and learning from failure is an important aspect of innovation. But it is important to evaluate projects clearly and agree on what works, before committing large-scale funding to further projects. In these pages, we highlight many innovative ideas and those who are driving them forward. What unites them is a passion for transformation and a belief that getting public services right is a worthy cause.
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