I am always told that you learn a great deal by failing. It’s true, failure is an intrinsic part of innovation, but you learn far more by succeeding. Particularly in public service innovation, where failures can affect the public and cost public money.
This thought is prompted by the £300m losses at Southern Cross, which operataes 750 care homes in the UK. As in health, we know very little about the failure regime in social care. There is virtually no provision for taking services back in house when companies or services fail. That is a risk for service users, but it is also bad for innovation. Without a failure regime, we cannot countenance failure, which means there is very little licence to innovate.
We are delighted with the successful launch of the Transition Institute. Whether you are optimisitc or pessimistic for the future of spin-outs, check out these rival think-pieces here and vote. However, one other kind of transitin to bear in mind in the future may be spin-ins. If failure is part of innovation, it should be part of our plans for the future of public services.