in Prose

What would you do with a budget of £2.3m?

A response to a question posed at the One Team Gov London breakfast

Someone posed this question at our OTG breakfast, and it’s been stewing in my brain since. I had a lovely walk this morning with Morgan and it’s helped to frame and restructure my thinking, and now I’ve got an answer.

I cannot make bricks without clay!

I’d use a budget of that size to start running experiments. Proper experiments, with control groups and academic rigour and results published in journals. And then I’d use that data to make a case for wider change. Here’s a few examples:

  • Summer hours: what if, for six months of the year, we paid people the same amount for four days as we would normally pay them for five? The ethical implications of this are large — how do we select the team that gets a day off? Is it fair?⁰
  • Does non-work related development improve productivity? I’m imagining giving one team of people £1,000 per year per person to spend on developing themselves in any way they wanted, another team £1,000 per year per person to spend on approved, work-related training, and another group nothing at all.
  • Incentive lottery: we’re in the midst of our annual People Survey. It’s hard to get people to fill it in, so what if we said: for every person who fills it in, we will put £50 into a pot and enter that person into a lottery. Then, after the deadline, we’ll randomly select 10% of the entrants and split the entire pot between them. Would it incentivise people? Or would the one person who really cares get rich?¹

I think a culture of experimentation, in an organisation like ours, would be a cool thing to build. So: who’s got £2.3m going spare…?


⁰ The answer is probably “No, but we might learn something valuable”
¹ Caring is a superpower though, so maybe that’s a good thing

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