Whatever the issue, it can feel like today’s organisations either want to control it or wash their hands of it. On the one hand, more organisations take problems into their own hands, from paternalistic public services to large multi-nationals. On the other, there are more ways to outsource problems, from dividing organisations into target-driven units to benefit transfers and replacing volunteering with a direct debit.
This division of labour has created enormous wealth through the twentieth century, but it has hollowed out institutions and seen a decline in collective ownership, responsibility and action. In tackling social problems, it is now subject to diminishing returns. Staff and citizens alike can feel alienated from and distrustful of public services, so that they struggle to achieve their goals.
A growing number of organisations are tackling this head-on through governance that sets in stone common ownership and endeavour. Rather than be run from Westminster or Whitehall, many organisations are looking to spin-out from the public sector, as a way to empower public service professionals and those they serve. For Innovation Unit – itself a public sector spin-out – this is an opportunity not just to transfer from the public sector but to transform public services. For years the very people delivering and receiving public services have had insufficient power to design them - this is a chance to put services into the hands of those who understand and value them most.