This report, undertaken by Newcastle University Business School in partnership with Collaborate, delves into the ways in which funders are beginning to realise the importance of recognising complexity. Rather than working to fictional 'transformations' which start with a problem, deliver a service and expect a result, they are becoming more flexible when addressing problems; working in a way which is at once more human and more systemic.
Outcomes are created by people's interaction with whole systems, not by particular interventions or organisations. Funders and commissioners working in this way take some responsibility for the health of a system as a whole, because healthy systems produce better outcomes. They take a system coordination role. They invest in network infrastructure which enables actors in the system to communicate effectively; they invest in building positive, trusting relationships and developing the skills of the people who work in the system.
The report identifies an opportunity to evolve beyond the New Public Management paradigm (NPM). NPM assumes that workers must be incentivized through performance targets to perform well, and therefore requires that metrics be used to measure the performance of people and organisations, as mechanisms to hold them accountable for producing desired outcomes. This approach leads to gaming (people doing activity which makes the data look better, rather than activity which genuinely helps people), and to fragmented services.
This report offers a glimpse of an emerging new approach – funders and commissioners who are beginning to work differently. This is the start of an exploring how it can be funded and commissioned in a way which meets the needs and strengths of real people.