complexity in policy making cartoon

Complexity and policy making – can you even say those words in the same sentence?
Most governments work as if the world is more linear than it actually is. There are still policy makers who think that complex problems can be approached with extensive planning and an efficiency mindset. The illusion of control still looms strong.

Fortunately there are more and more people within governments, non-governmental organisations and consultancies who want to develop new ways of thinking and operating that are a better fit for an increasingly unpredictable world.

Below is the beginning of a visual summary I made at the launch event for a report commissioned by the Finnish Prime Minister’s Office with the sexy title “Government steering Beyond 2020 : From Regulatory and Resource Management to Systems navigation”. It’s one sign that policy thinking is shifting.

See the full version (in Finnish).

Steering 2020 report cartoon Ohjaus 2020

The report was produced by MDI – a Finnish consultancy specialising in local government.

Virpi Oinonen

PS. This is not the first time I draw about complexity and policy making. Check out this animation that illustrates the challenges of linear thinking in public services when faced with complex problems like homelessness. If you want to use the cartoon in your work or want help in communicating something that challenges people’s assumptions about how the world works (such as complexity) get in touch – it’s my speciality :).