Gary Kass, Visiting Professor, Centre for Environment and Sustainability, University of Surrey
As the world changes in complex and unpredictable ways, Government is changing too. As it does so, the need grows for policy-making and the evidence that informs it to be alive and responsive to the increasing pervasiveness of complexity. In public service systems the increase in complexity often means that no single institution is ever ‘in charge’ or has direct control over how changes unfold. In response, as policy-makers and service deliverers begin to recognise the new reality of pervasive complexity, we see a fading of inadequate notions of one-size-fits all, predict-and-provide and command-and-control approaches. Rather, we see a brightening of newer notions such as open policy-making; outcomes-focus; and service-driven adaptive approaches.
One key driver of these shifts is the growing recognition that complexity and uncertainty are pervasive and dominant features in the world with many of the certainties and stabilities of the past being eroded or removed. A key requirement, then, is to build capacity to set and deliver public policy as these changes unfold.