The Logic of Open Value Creation

In 2009 we are confronted with new public policy and management approaches in mediated policy initiation and formulation (Obama’s Open Government Initiative), distributed intelligence gathering (the US intelligence communities Intellipedia), crowdsourcing of accountability (The Guardian’s British Parliament invoice scandal platform), or peer produced political campaigning (the Obama Campaign), and even social media enhanced  revolutions (Iran).

Not everything government does can be addressed by these new mechanisms, but with technologically mediated open value creation we have been handed a powerful tool to make the world a better place. O’Reilly asks the pertinent questions in Forbes:

How does government itself become an open platform that allows people inside and outside government to innovate? How do you design a system in which all of the outcomes aren’t specified beforehand, but instead evolve through interactions between the technology provider and its user community?

The idea of government as a platform necessitates an open value creation process.

Open Value Creation consists of Open Policy Making and an Open Value Chain.

The distinction is slightly arbitrary but useful. It allows us to differentiate between coming up with a value generating process (policy) and repeatedly creating the value (value chain).

  • Open policy making aims to open all aspects of the policy process (initiation, formulation, implementation, evaluation) to outside inputs and scrutiny. It assumes that this allows better informed policy making that is more legitimate and less costly.
  • The open value chain opens the implementation process (inputs, process, outputs, impact, outcome) to outside contributions under the assumption that a co-produced public value is less costly and more effective.

Open value creation can be achieved if it is applied in all phases of the policy cycle and the value chain. At the Erfurt School of Public Policy we refer to the IDCA framework (ideation, deliberation // collaboration, accountability) for this purpose:

1. Ideation (policy)

Ideation is the process of collectively coming up with ideas and developing them. What is need is a platform that allows participants to post ideas, to comment, and to weed out the bad apples.

2. Deliberation (policy)

We understand deliberation best, because it has its analog in the offline world and there is sufficient text about it. The idea is to create a space in which the better argument and not the structurally advantaged position wins. What is needed is a platform to present ideas, discuss them both syn- and diachronically, and to weigh them in concordance with the underlying governance principle (think Digg-style, Reddit-style, or IMDB-style).

3. Collaboration (value chain)

We have most difficulties with collaboration, because it is new. Collaboration allows access to the work-flow by self-selected outsiders. The idea is to make the work flow modular, granular, and redundant, so that very different contributions can be integrated without endangering the quality of the output. A collaboration platform must be governed by a combination of self-enforcing code, simple but strong core principles, and an inclusive culture (think Canonical’s Launchpad or Wikipedia).

4. Accountability (value chain)

Accountability is often not well understood. We see it as a danger and not a strategic asset. By accounting to our stakeholders we decrease our error rates by adding free expertise and increase legitimacy, and public pride and ownership.

Core Technologies of Open Value Creation

Open value creation is possible because of new technologies that allow us to structure idea generation and information aggregation in digital form.

The core technologies of open value creation are the wiki (principle-based, user-generated platforms, with flexible moderation capacity), the forum (question driven user-generated knowledge platform), blogging (core message with feedback/discourse loop), and work flow management and visualization tools (Government resource planning, government process mapping tools, think SAP, Oracle, SugarCRM, etc.). Together they allow us to structure policy and administrative public value creation processes, by enhancing ideation (idea-generation), deliberation (commenting and discussion), collaboration (generating public values), and accountability (parsing data to hold government accountable).

How to implement such projects?

By combining these modular core technologies into custom-tailored open policy and value creation platforms organizations can address the challenges they are facing and capture the hearts and minds of local, national, and international stakeholders.

  • Agree on set of principles for all policy and adminstrative processes according to the framework.
  • Provide a set of (open source) tools to all parts of government responsible for implementation.
  • Put together an inter-functional consulting group that helps cross-functional implementation.

At the moment we are working on several such projects with municipal (participatory budgeting, crowdsourcing security), state level (knowledge management, cross-border collaboration), and federal level stakeholders (legal ramifications of new forms of collaboration, strategy development) worldwide. So if you have an interesting project, please comment about your experience or send us an email!

About Philipp

Philipp Müller works in the IT industry and is academic dean of the SMBS. Author of "". Proud father of three amazing children. The views expressed in this blog are his own.

11. August 2009 by Philipp
Categories: Blog | Tags: , , , | 2 comments