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We hope you are ok out there. Towards the end of last year we got slammed with report writing and ended up putting this newsletter on a short hiatus, we’ll do our best to resume normal service! This week, Jesper talks about going in search of institutional resilience, something that’s been on his mind for a long time. We hope it resonates.

Special thanks to Giulio for an incredibly generous and reliable source of gold (aka his Twitter account) do give it a follow.

Take care


In search of institutional resilience

I keep ruminating on the idea that we are alive in a time of transformative transitions; huge changes sweeping society. Changes that make clear to this optimist that the institutions at the heart of society must change too, due a timely transformative transition of their own. I dream (no lie) of far-sighted organisations trusted to help society navigate these great shifts we’re living through, one that’s in tune with what we need. But I fear that change is not happening fast enough. Or, perhaps, as Sascha has written, I am not patient enough. To set out our stall for 2022, these are three areas that have our attention:

1. Transformative leadership. Working with public executives operating in circumstances, both daunting and uncertain, to act meaningfully and avoid paralysis.

2. Adaptive capability. Working with ambitious partners to develop their institutional capacity to respond better to current global risks.

3. Innovation learning infrastructure. Exploring and illustrating how to best support system transformation and mission-based innovation. Specifically, experimenting with new kinds of dedicated learning infrastructure and R&D functions.

If you are curious about being part of the journey, please get in touch, let’s see how we can work together.

Community board

Hannah writes on the challenge and slipperiness of finding ‘a’ system change theory and helpfully collates a range of them that may help sharpen (or expand!) your thinking.

On policy fiction (or fictional policies?). "My hope, as a policymaker, is to read more science fiction stories about the future of policy and diplomacy.”

Which I think relates nicely to this on piece from Cassie on imagination and field building “as necessary for creating infrastructure — slow, deep capacity building to support conditions of long-term uncertainty".

Demos map the emergence of a new economic paradigm – field building again – and add that “with every kind of nascent movement, there is a period of misalignment, ideological disagreement, tactical disparity, and, consequentially, a sense of dissonance.”

On the same theme: "we tend to think of revolutions as loud: frustrations shouted in the streets. But the ideas fueling them have traditionally been conceived in much quieter spaces: small, secluded corners where a vanguard can imagine alternate realities" from the Quiet Before by Gal Beckerman.

Ella has created the Long Time Academy, a podcast one small corner that “sits at the intersection of spirituality and activism” and is filled with awe-inspiring wisdom. Some great guests: Adrienne Maree Brown, Brian Eno, George the Poet.

“What bureaucracies really need, more often than not, is to reimagine their purpose, not their workflows", writes Sascha on dealing with the inevitable setbacks when playing the long game.

On purpose: a framework for conceptualising the purpose of innovation labs. Lindsay Cole writes “as the number of PSI labs grows, what is also emerging is more reflective practice and a stronger critique.”

"I have come to believe we should stop building labs in isolation. Instead, we should tear their existing parent organizations apart, and assemble them from scratch based on a new set of design principles" writes Christian Bason on DDC’s 2022.

Re-upping this from Demos Helsinki one purpose/vision to “define humility [in government] as the capability to recognise that leadership in the 21st century is not about having all the right answers, but about continuously learning and collaborating rigorously in inventive new ways.”

On what a portfolio approach to policy “can be equated to an action, learning, and problem-solving system, which was designed to examine, highlight and create new choices, options, and opportunities in a complex space."

And finally, Bas on how all of this is great but report writing takes over everything.

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