In ‘The State of ‘Co-Creation:’ How Countries, Cities and Regions are Using New Thinking to Deliver Better Services’, Co-VAL’s newest Policy Brief, Anthony Arundel, Professorial Fellow at UNU-MERIT, Francesco Mureddu, Director at the Lisbon Council and David Osimo, Director of Research at the Lisbon Council, propose an eight-point programme for delivering co-creation in public administrations based on field research, and in particular on a first-of-its-kind survey of government agencies on the use of co-creation and Co-VAL’s data-driven dashboard.
Co-VAL’s third Policy Brief was initially scheduled to be presented during the Milan Digital Week, but due to the unforeseen developments around the coronavirus and the event’s postponement, the presentation of the policy brief and the data-driven dashboard was held online on March 13, 2020.
The authors suggest several areas, both weak and strong spots, where progress might usefully be made and policy initiatives launched. The result is an eight-point programme for delivering co-creation at scale. In specific, the recommendations include:
- Provide cross-departmental operational guidelines
- Build in-house competence
- Deliver at scale
- Measure adoption rates and compliance
- Use real-time data (and set standards for gathering it)
- Support local adoption
- Empower a cross-government digital transformation agency or team
- Be consistent
As the authors mention, the vast majority of public-administration respondents say they get their innovative ideas mostly from internal sources. In specific, less than 10 % point out that they get their innovative ideas from citizens, businesses or civil society.
Some key findings are:
- Governments are becoming more and more aware of “co-creation” as a policy area in which they should be active and where they might be drawing more benefit. More than 80 % of public administrations in Europe admit that they have important, viable co-creation projects underway.
- The meaning of co-creation is still unclear for many governments. When it comes to co-creation methods that have been adopted, most governments typically employ very traditional ones, such as interviews with citizens, population-data studies or brain storming sessions. Advanced methods such as “design thinking,” “prototyping” or setting up “digital transformation teams” are unfortunately still the exception, accounting for fewer than half of all existing co-creation pilots and projects.
- Most new ideas still come from civil servants talking to other civil servants. As seen in the Policy Brief, citizens or businesses were the sources of ideas for innovation in fewer than 10 % of the administrations surveyed. By contrast, 68 % say they get their new ideas from government employees.
- Governments that adopt the largest variety of co-creating methods, such as design thinking, data analytics and prototyping, show the most benefits.
- Co-creation techniques are being applied across a wide variety of areas. The three most popular found applications are developing new services, building government “service-designer” communities, creating laboratories for experimentation.
- Many governments have issued guidelines and toolkits for making co-creation happen. But there are few metrics or compliance measuring processes by which the actual adoption rate can be assessed.
- Many EU member states invest in training digital skills, however training in co-creation methods is almost absent.
- Many EU member states are hiring workers with advanced digital skills and experience with working in new ways. Nevertheless, these teams do not always have a sufficiently important place in the administration to make a visible difference.
- EU member states are increasingly focusing their digital-government reporting on adoption rates rather than supply and using data automatically generated by web services rather than through surveys, which are both very positive developments. However, the available indicators are not comparable across countries, which impedes cross-border assessment and benchmarking.
- Municipalities have been slower than national governments to move. One reason may be a lack of support tools for municipalities that want to adopt co-creation, as also the near total absence of indicators to understand local-government performance. This represents a double disadvantage: it removes a powerful incentive to innovate and it hinders the possibility to learn from the best performers.
You can download Co-VAL’s third Policy Brief “The State of ‘Co-Creation:’ How Countries, Cities and Regions are Using New Thinking to Deliver Better Services” here.
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