Interior of building under construction/reinvention.

Making the Impossible Possible

We know we need reinvention now, and we’re working on how

In early July, we brought together 150 public sector radicals who showed us there are restless entrepreneurial spirits across the public, social enterprise and social investment worlds who are ready to help create the next generation of public services.

In our conversations with some potential partners and investors over the past six months, we’ve heard that the Impossible mission is “very ambitious,” which we know is polite British for impossible. You can tell from our name that we saw this coming.

And yet, at Making the Impossible Possible, we heard from public entrepreneurs — leaders, funders and innovators — that big ambition, and the ability to imagine, design and deliver radically better public service experiences is badly needed to overcome the epic challenges the public sector is facing. We also uncovered a little more about how we can work together to do this.

Bringing the talent back

We heard from Local Authority Chief Execs, Joanna Killian, Surrey County Council, and Paul Matthews from Monmouthshire County Council, about the extent of the challenge they’re facing to meet rising demand with a diminishing workforce. After decades successfully improving public services, and battling new challenges, they are embracing the need for a shake-up. As Joanna said,

“I cannot continue to run services in the way that they are currently configured… I’ve got 20–25% vacancy rates for social workers in adults’ services, children’s services, I can’t get educational psychologists, I can’t get data analysts, so there’s no point putting on patches… The only way that this is going to work is with new design… it’s a fallacy to think that we can keep this rickety old model of public service delivery going.”

Better culture, conditions, tools and ways of working in genuinely modern public services will help attract talent back into the public sector, back into our most important services.

It’s already happening

At Impossible, we’re comfortable with our big ambition because we already know that it’s possible to re-design public services from scratch to create exponentially cheaper ways of delivering better outcomes.

We heard from Seb Barker, Co-Founder and COO at Beam, about how they’ve done just that through a digital platform and brilliant services that help people at risk of homelessness find new jobs and homes.

Trouble is, we need thousands more Beams if we’re to get to the more equal, fairer third horizon we’re all working for.

Mila Lukic, Co-Founder and CEO of Bridges Outcomes Partnerships and Aman Johal, Head of Social Outcomes and Investment Director of Big Society Capital talked about the success, limitations and exciting future of social outcomes contracts as mechanisms for funding new approaches with a focus on complexity and prevention. We think there’s a big opportunity to amplify the impact of this sort of social investment, with a bigger pool of design-led, digitally enabled delivery organisations.

Public sector radicals

One way of making the next generation of public services a reality is by supporting, learning from and strengthening the bonds between public entrepreneurs so that public entrepreneurialism and radical change becomes cool, then the norm, and our mission moves quickly from impossible to “well, of course”.

Tom Ebbutt, Managing Director at On Purpose set out characteristics and successful examples of public entrepreneurs. There was also a lot of discussion on the chat about the challenges of building entrepreneurial skills and capabilities within the public sector.

There seems to be a real need for new, better and more widespread training to help create and support public entrepreneurs. We also understand the need to give entrepreneurial local authority leaders the space and capacity to think through where reinvention sits in relation to other modernisation work within their organisations, and how it might help relieve some of their biggest pain points. If this sounds like something you need, please get in touch.

So what’s next?

Don’t you think it’d be great if there was a bigger pool of modern, digitally-enabled, continuously learning, human-centred, community-powered organisations able to deliver better outcomes for less through radically better citizen experiences? Same.

Our next event will focus on exactly how reinvention works, the blockers we’re facing and how we might work together to take them down.

Please fill out this form to become one of the crew, and come along to our next event.

If you know of other genuinely modern organisations delivering radically better, cheaper public services, we’d love to hear from you.

You can see the full webinar recording here.

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