— Jose Gonzalez

Policy makers, engineers and entrepreneurs

What if policy makers worked like entrepreneurs and engineers? Sometimes, public policy initiatives are very difficult to replicate due to the lack of management best practices, freely available data  and code. For one moment imagine working on a project or designing a public policy that would:

  • Management best practices:
    • Let people know on what are you working at every time
    • Less generals and more soldiers: have a lean management structure with the least herarchical levels possible
    • Avoid information silos
    • Manage requirements and not activities
  • Other best practices:
    • Have a version control system: ability to track who added what and seamlessly roll back to previous versions
    • Automated testing of assumptions
    • Simple deployment: run this script and see the results
    • Code reviews: public repos on github with everything needed to replicate the project and add more contributors to it

My guess is that some public policies could benefit from some of these techniques. For example, designing a project that gives training to people who recently lost their employment. According to some of the principles above, firs we should create a minimum viable product and validate it with our customer via quick iterations (people receiving training). Second, after the product is improved we can start setting up the infrastructure to roll-out the product and start a pilot program. Finally, an institution /company is created to supply the product, in our case the training.

Sometimes policy makers follow the opposite process: first they create a large institution to provide services and products not validated by their users. That is, without knowing if they are really needed. Of course, this does not apply to all public policies and not all policies should follow a lean start-up approach or extreme programming technique.

This could lead policy makers to design policies that deliver what the beneficiaries really need instead of what the planner planners they need  and do it in a record time minimizing waste.

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