The twin challenges facing government
Governments have always faced two serious challenges: bringing about the results people expect while remaining trusted and relevant. Both challenges are equally important and hard to get right – addressing them well requires a new kind of government that values the role everyone can play, working with people from all backgrounds and ideologies to build the future of government together.
To help shape our thinking we’ve been:
The Shared Power Principle
Understanding how the Shared Power Principle can address the twin challenges of effectiveness and legitimacy
Listening to citizens to help governments strengthen legitimacy
Making it happen
Learning from those who are making it happen
A new policy or programme would not be enough. It needed a radical rethink about how we could put people and connections at the heart of public services.
Young people hear a lot of politicians talking and talking but then nothing ever seems to happen... they just need to start being honest – if something can’t happen then sit down with them and explain why that is the case.
If we can’t trust the data in the system, then the system itself becomes a lie — and until we change this, it will always be difficult to create positive outcomes or even to speak openly about what we can achieve.
Listening to citizens
Though many conversations and effort centred around a more efficient government, not enough attention goes into strengthening the relationships people have with their communities and governments. These fragile relationships make governing even harder. We are on a journey to better understand what people need from their governments, how to help people feel more connected to decision-making and what governments can do to bring both citizens and public servants together to solve the biggest challenges of our time.
So far, this journey has focused on how government can be more human, a key aspect of legitimacy. So far, this research has uncovered five key ‘behaviours’ that can help strengthen those all-important relationships.
The five key behaviours
1. Working together with people towards a shared vision
Do people feel that they have a stake in a government? Do they feel any sense of common purpose?
“There’s currently no notion of where to go.” - Participant at the citizen conversation in Mexico
Find out more about what we heard in Mexico:
2. Bringing empathy into government
What dominates public services and processes: departmental structures or people’s needs?
"Government feels uncomfortable hearing how indigenous people were hurt" - Participant at the First Nations conversation in Canada
Read more about our conversation in Canada:
3. Bringing an authentic connection
How are individual government representatives and institutions perceived by citizens? Do they speak the same language and can they connect with people emotionally?
Listen to what we heard from young people in Brixton.
4. Enabling the public to scrutinize government
What mechanisms exist to allow the public to understand easily what government is doing, why, and who makes decisions? Are these processes as inclusive and accessible as they could be?
“Legitimacy is strong when there is transparency about what processes the government uses to reach its decisions.” - Participant at the citizen conversation in India
Find out more:
5. Valuing citizens voices and responding to them
Is consultation just a box-ticking exercise, or is there a general willingness to listen to people’s voices and turn them into action?
"Voters want governments to show they care about them and have listened to their voice" - Ben Page Chief executive of Ipsos MORI.
Hear more from Ben Page:
Making it happen. Shared power in action
Inspired by the empowerment of Dutch nurses demonstrated by Buurtzorg, we teamed up with Frontline and Buurtzorg Britain & Ireland to create a blueprint for children’s social care that prioritises relationships between social workers and children and families.
Join the conversation
Have a public impact story to share? Get in touch to let us know. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.