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10 take-aways from a local government innovation conference

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I recently had the pleasure of facilitating the MAV Hacktivation conference on innovation in local government in Melbourne. Interestingly, half the participants had ‘innovation’ or ‘improvement’ in their job titles, so this was a real showcase of innovation in Victorian local government. Incidentally, we really had fun pushing the boundaries of 'conference', with lots of interactivity where participants worked together and shared their own knowledge, rather than only hearing from experts. I think we proved that works. We also made a process for participants to design their own prototypes during the conference. We proved that can work too! Here are my top...

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Forcing regulators to listen (yay)

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If you're a legislator, you can easily become the victim of your tools, as in: 'I legislate therefore I am'. However regulation is often a failure of imagination, and a failure of curiosity. It produces blowbacks that can negate the whole point (think: Native Vegetation Act). And it requires a substantial and permanent investment in monitoring and compliance. The Australian Government, bless its neoliberal soul, is pushing back: which might not be a bad thing. A recent initiative, ironically, is to create a regulatory burden on regulators, called a Regulation Impact Statement (RIS). I just read the guideline document, and...

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Incentives that work...it's the back story that counts

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Incentives are a deceptively complex area of program design, where the answer is usually not intuitive. I just read this very clear statement that might be useful: “Incentives are messages. The mere presence of an incentive, which attaches a positive or negative signal to a choice, can be more important than the magnitude of the incentive. Individuals interpret this message within a particular social context, and incentives thus interact with social preferences in important ways. Careless use of incentives can backfire by displacing and “crowding‐out” beneficial social preferences, while well‐designed incentives will instead “crowd‐in” and strengthen social preferences. “Whether crowding‐out...

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Start with love, change the space, lens swapping and walking meetings - Signs and wonders #8

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Stuff I hear about in workshops A love for all creation - the Pope’s dazzling encyclical Just read Laudato Si, Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, which is about much more than the environment. What a smart, strategic, moving document it is! There is hardly a paragraph that is not simultaneously eloquent, sobering and energising. We make strategies for everything there days…but who’s ever tackled a high-level strategy for the whole of humanity? From now on this is mine. Here’s why I think it’s smart: because of its global scale, because it proposes a fundamental unity of the twin problems...

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Is Idol a better model for community grants?

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Just got back from having my mind blown – in a good way, with optimism – at the all-day the “pitch session” for Hume City Council’s Healthy Together grants. I sat through 10 remarkable 5-minute pitches from community organisations and individuals, for grants of up to $5,000 for projects to increase healthy eating in Hume. [Background: Hume City, in the northern suburbs of Melbourne, is one of Australia’s fastest growing and most disadvantaged communities, with a very high and rapidly increasing population of refugees and new arrivals.] The Hume team had been inspired by something they saw their peers at...

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