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Exploring Policy Innovation: Tools, techniques and approaches

A sketch of the policy innovation landscape in Canada, identifying the challenges and opportunities that lie before public sector innovators and point to future areas of research
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Exploring Policy Innovation: Tools, techniques and approaches
Alex Conliffe
Former Director, Policy Innovation Platform
Chad Story
Senior Projects Officer

About this Report

In February 2018, the Ontario Government’s Policy Innovation Hub (PIH) asked BII+E to identify leading examples and models of policy innovation. There is growing appetite within the public service, in Canada and abroad, to experiment with innovative approaches to policy development in order to better address the needs of individuals and communities. In 2017, public service leaders across Canada made a commitment to support public sector and policy innovation with a Federal, Provincial and Territorial Declaration on Public Sector Innovation.

This research report provides a sketch of the policy innovation landscape in Canada, with specific reference to the tools, techniques, and approaches occurring at all three levels of government. Through this analysis, we have identified the challenges and opportunities that lie before public sector innovators and point to future areas of research. This work is guided by the question: What are the factors that impact successful policy innovation and development?

The research scope focuses on novel approaches to policy development, rather than an assessment of broader public sector innovation. It should be emphasized that this is not a comprehensive research project, but a starting point to explore insights and opportunities for policy innovation in Canada.

Read this report to help you:
  • Gather useful insights and public benefit about policy innovation
  • Discover research that may shape mandates and deal with the inevitable “fuzziness” many new ventures experience, such as government innovation units, labs, and hubs across Canada

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Key findings from the report:

  • Conflicting definitions of design, policy, and innovation may result in unnecessary duplication of efforts
  • There is very little qualitative research (i.e., institutional ethnography) that examines and learns from the everyday realities of the policy profession
  • There is little room for experiential research in policymaking due
    to a bias towards quantitative data analysis
  • Policy decisions tend to be informed by proxies (stakeholders,
    experts) with less attention given to the “raw” experiences of citizens
  • The disconnect between policy planners and policy implementers
    means that policy recommendations and budgets might be set with limited knowledge about potential real world results
  • The elephant in the room is that issues are directed by political mandates, and the success of policy solutions also depends on alignment with “windows of opportunity”
Alex Conliffe
Former Director, Policy Innovation Platform
Chad Story
Senior Projects Officer

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Jun 28, 2016

With the doom-and-gloom of climate change, an underperforming global economy and growing disconnect between people and their government, it’s not a surprise that government is looking for alternatives
Policy Innovation
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