DESIGN FOR VALUES
THE ROLE OF GOVERNMENT
The role of Government is to create and maintain an environment that allows it's people to live healthy, fulfilling lives, true to their values,
and free from fear and insecurity.
In some cases the focus of Government has been on external military and political threat while the internal threat of poor healthcare, lack of sanitation, degraded environment, and lack of opportunity has not been adequately addressed. This can not be considered Healthy Governance. Implementing Design for Values at a governmental level is part of creating a healthy government for all the people of the Ummah.
Implementing Design for Values will reach from the basics, such as health care and sanitation to enabling a business environment that supports risk taking and new enterprise. Innovation is integral to this non-linear process. If an innovation climate is enabled it can materialise solutions to basic problems in a way that tops-down or external intervention can not. Local solutions tend to be of immediate benefit and durable. The local solution is more likely to be closely aligned to local values. This 'Pull versus Push' approach to innovation and regional development can be facilitated by Government. This concept is very well described in the book The Prosperity Paradox written by Ojomo, Dillon & Christensen. Ojomo, et. al, provides many examples of where Government and associated organisations can help create an environment where peoples natural inclination to innovate to solve problems will flourish. Pull versus Push describes innovation that is internally conceived, managed and sustained. It removes the baggage of history and strengthens feelings of self determination and social cohesion.
In many ways Pull versus Push can trace its lineage back to the late 1960's and a UN commissioned a report on the role of science and technology in aiding the developing world. That report came to be know as the Sussex Manifesto. Its recommendations were deemed too extreme for the times and were sidelined. Forty years later individuals linked to the creation of the report working as The STEPS Centre produced a second iteration titled 'Innovation, Sustainability, Development - A New Manifesto' "Global annual spending on research and development exceeds a trillion dollars. Military and security-related applications are the single largest area of expenditure. Yet every day in poorer parts of the world, thousands of children die from waterborne diseases, more than a billion people go hungry and more than a thousand die in pregnancy and childbirth. At the same time, future generations face huge social, environmental and economic challenges from threats such as climate change. Yet global governance, economics and politics frequently work against the interests of poorer countries and people, worsening inequalities." This can not be considered healthy Governance!
A healthy Government focused on the needs of it's people is an essential partner in bringing Design for Values to market with sufficient scale to deliver a meaningful improvement to peoples lives. Government and associated agencies in enterprise development, innovation promotion, inward investment etc. can create essential elements for implementation, and delivery of new products, services and solutions to social inequality.
From a Business perspective, practical measures that make it easier to establish new enterprises and that support entrepreneurs through the startup phase are essential. Changes that streamline the legal system so that it is an aid to enterprise as opposed to an obstacle, that enable access to funding and ease the resolution of failed enterprises are essential in promoting the growth of an innovation-ecosystem.
In the US many of the companies formed in Silicon Valley incorporate in the State of Delaware. Delaware registration provides benefits to startups that can be re-imagined and applied as appropriate in regions looking to foster their own Innovation Hub.
Communal attitudes can either help or hinder innovation and new enterprises. Government and official society can help promote the cultural shifts necessary to encourage the risk taking involved in innovation. This can range from public information campaigns to the public celebration of valiant efforts to start a new enterprise or new products that conform to the principle of Design for Values.
Transient and or violent change can be implemented quickly in a top-down or street-up manner. Change for good, non violent and resilient comes from education, persuasion, example and patience.
Cultural shifts are often necessary to promote a culture of innovation. Many leaders in the past have forced through cultural shifts that continue to reverberate negatively for generations. Iran, Ireland, Turkey and Egypt are just a few of the countries that have experienced this phenomenon. In some countries 'Wasta' may play a larger part in business success than hard work. This is a cultural reality that exists for a reason. The reason is based on complex inter-generational relationships and power structures. It can not be removed instantly. As new structures are built that support hard work, risk taking and innovation the complex need for Wasta will fade into history. Maybe life will never be completely fair and some people will always have more power and opportunity than others but we all share a sacred duty to try and address this imbalance to create a fairer and more equitable life for all people.
As in the Business context, starting is the key, start simple perhaps but start. Release your innovation to the market place, partner with civil society, iterate and improve.
Research professor Charity Wayua in Kenya offers ideas and hope in this inspiring talk on the TED Forum. The ideas she describes are foundational to practical implementation of Design for Values. Understanding and learning from the substantial level of detail that must lie behind this uplifting talk is key. Kenya has shown it can embrace change, can your Government?