Innovate from Within – An Open Letter to the new Cabinet Secretary

This Demos report, published in 2002, was an early attack on the “deliverology” culture that came to dominate the centre of government in the first and especially the second Blair administration.

It argues that the Government’s delivery mantra resulted in over-centralisation and there was a growing tension between the short term, incremental improvements of existing services and the creation of entirely new services for a more complex society. The solution to this dilemma is to encourage innovation from within. As an alternative to a target-driven approach, Leadbeater sets out nine principles for reform. These are based on the need for ‘licensed freedom’ to innovate within a framework of transparency and high expectation. For a notoriously risk-averse institution such as the civil service, this means a fundamental change of culture and working practice. The diversity of people recruited as public servant also needs to be increased. This is the challenge facing the incoming head of the British civil service; for Government the challenge is overcoming its controlling instincts enough to allow it to happen.

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