On 17 October 2015, Wyatt Roy, the assistant minister for innovation co-hosted Australia’s first policy hackathon with startup accelerator Blue Chilli. It was a great opportunity to get up close and personal with the machinery of government, and hopefully use a little disruptive thinking to bring about changes in policy for the “innovation industry”.
Working with the “corporate innovation” policy challenge, I helped facilitate a team led by champions, Michelle Narracott and Justin Strharsky. Also on the team, tackling this challenge were policy advisors, representatives from industry, entrepreneurs and startups. There was serious expertise on hand from the Department of Industry and Science, Treasury, the fields of intellectual property, international trade and the mining, healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.
In the world of startups, there is a great deal of focus initially on an MVP – the minimum viable product. The idea is that as a startup we create the best possible product with a minimal feature set in order to test market viability. But with a “policy hack” the focus is not on a product but a policy. As such, the challenge for the teams was to develop a “minimum viable policy” – delivering a policy tweak or shift with the potential for a big impact on the “innovation industry”. This was a significant challenge given that:
- The teams self-formed on the day
- The participants had no prior experience working with each other
- Time was limited to about 5 hours
- Problems were broadly articulated.
That almost all teams positioned strong proposals for “policy hacks” is testament to not only the team champions, facilitators and mentors – but also the disciplined, lean methodologies used across the day.
You can read more about the experience here – and also the views from participants and observers:
- Josh Nicholas – From the inside: the limitations of a policy hack
- Mark Pesce – Policy hack: this inaugural event could shape future policy debates
- Rose Powell – What happened at Wyatt Roy’s policy hack
- Steve Baxter – Interview with Wyatt Roy
- Anne-Marie Elias – The PolicyHack experiment – a futurist vision
- James Riley – Riding startup herd with Wyatt Roy
And now, thanks again to Blue Chilli, you can watch the pitches in the video below. Where do we go from here? The machinery of government and policy is turning. The question is, how fast, and with a focus on what kind of outcome.