Creating Social Value Blog / Corporate Social Relevance

The New Public Policy

By Nate Garvis, Social Innovation Fellow at The Lewis Institute and Founder of Naked Civics, LLC.

Entrepreneurial Thought & Action® + Civic Outcome = The New Public Policy

No matter where you’re from, chances are you view public policy as the activity of regulating through legislation driven by politics.  And it is.  But that’s not all it is.  Or better put, it is not all it should be if we want to thrive.

So let’s try this definition on for size:  Regulation is behavior that meets a community standard.  Laws are indeed one way of creating that behavior, but they’re hardly the only paths towards that desired goal.  In fact I’d venture to say that given the political theater that has trumped artful law making in capitol cities across our planet, the political path is one of diminishing returns.  Sure it moves us left and right, but is it really moving us forward?

And yet, forward thinking is what we need in how we approach the challenges of our day.  Increasingly, all of us live in a world that needs to be defined by civic outcomes.

So what to do when our political minds fail us?  Turn to other minds.  Actually, turn to another mindset: the entrepreneurial mindset.

The entrepreneurial mindset is great when you’re entering unpredictable and often times unknowable territory, when the old rulebook just doesn’t work.  And given the rapid and massive changes emerging from our wired global community as well as 24/7 political “angertainment”, I’d say it’s safe to say: We’ve never been here before.

Babson’s methodology of Entrepreneurial Thought & Action® has a proven track record when it comes to launching business ventures.  It’s time to prove the wisdom of these practices when it comes to launching civic ventures as well.

What would that look like?

While I’d like to say it looks like a public sector that is as nimble and agile as business that’s probably not going to happen overnight.  But what if we said it looks like a business sector that designs with the aim of nurturing our communities.  I’d say that sounds pretty powerful.

More than ever businesses have the opportunity to not just be regulated, but also serve the role of regulator.  Again, if regulation is about public standards, then why wait to be forced into that behavior?  Why not build it right in from the start and use that as your point of differentiation?

We have a world that is beginning to align values with value creation.  Green design may be the current version of that type of thinking, but what could happen if we took that same intent – that intent of making products that heal rather than harm – and aimed that lens at more and more social challenges that our governments seem to be ill equipped in addressing?

I think that broader lens would mean fewer blind spots.  And that seems like a clearer way forward.