Speakers Bios & Abstracts

Platzhalter Speakers
Michael Hallsworth

Senior Policy Advisor,
Behavioural Insights Team at Cabinet Office,
Cabinet Office UK


Michael Hallsworth joined the Institute for Government - an independent charity with cross-party and Whitehall governance working to increase government effectiveness - in 2008. He has conducted cross-government research into organisational behaviour, machinery of government changes, and information technology. His current research focuses on behaviour change and public policy-making.
Previously, he was at RAND Europe (a not-for-profit public policy research institute), specialising in futures thinking and performance management. He holds undergraduate and postgraduate degrees from Cambridge University.


'System Stewardship'

'This talk argues that the best way for governments to use insights from complexity sciences is by adopting a ‘system stewardship’ approach. Using a series of examples from the Olympics, it shows that it is crucial to see policy issues in terms of their complexity. Some challenges require clear direction to accomplish a specific goal, and this can be done through simple systems. For others, pre-defined solutions will fail: the best approach is to create an enabling framework and let different players in the system tackle the problem instead. This perspective allows us to see how (for example) building the Olympic stadium is quite a different challenge from regenerating the area around it – and how both require different policy approaches as a result.
Policy makers rarely assess issues this way. This can lead them to over-estimate the control they have over a system, and the benefits from implementing pre-formed solutions. In contrast, system stewardship sets out how governments can better understand how complex a challenge is, and how to respond accordingly. This talk will set out some simple criteria for applying system stewardship in practice. It will also show how this approach is gaining traction in the UK government.'