The phase of ‘Achieving Transformation’ is about embedding what is working into business as usual. There is generally a strong local evidence base of the impact achieved or the benefits of change. Now it is about leveraging that knowledge for broader impact, embedding these practices or new ways of working into business as usual at the local level and/or across the system to achieve transformational systems change. At this phase, partners are more confident and sophisticated in their approach to engaging with government and philanthropy. They have the relationships and knowledge from years of working together.
Scaling local innovations for broader impact poses significant questions for government:
- How might government take the principles, strategies or learnings from one or more systems change initiative and test them for greater scale?
- What are the right mechanisms to devolve decision making more closely to the local level, so that responses are tailored to local conditions? Examples might include regional or area governance structures with earned devolution of power, joint decision making with communities, and pooled funding mechanisms.
- How do you ensure a minimum standard for Australia-wide or state-wide services yet enable tailoring to local conditions?
- How does government mirror collaborative and holistic approaches when Government policy, programs, funding and monitoring are all portfolio based?
There are some interesting examples to watch across Australia where Social Impact Bonds, pooled funding, or outcomes-based commissioning are being tested, but it is early days.
There are also significant implications for the skill sets of public servants. Government is increasingly embracing innovative approaches, frameworks and tools such as co-design, design sprints, hackathons, engaging lived experience and behavioural insights to inform policy and program design and implementation. However, these are not core business and significant shifts are required to capitalise on the benefit of collaborative approaches and to empower community to lead and deliver.
During this phase be mindful of:
- Boundaries: the lines between policy and implementation may need to be increasingly blurred to support responses to complex problems. This will support adaptive strategy and a test and learn approach.
- Capability: there will be a need to build the capability of the public service in increasingly valuable technical skills such as design thinking, engagement and facilitation, relationship brokering, evaluation and scaling of successful approaches.
- Funding: innovative funding pools for collaboratives tackling complex problems may be required, especially where this allows them to access funds in a timely way as needed. This could be to address a problem, develop a new idea, pilot or even scale.
- Feedback: if they are not already in place, feedback loop structures will need to be built into government to connect knowledge and lessons from the local level to inform policy/ program design.