The NS Framework
The New Synthesis (NS) Framework provides a conceptual road map for navigating the relationship between government, society, and citizens in an integrated and dynamic governance system aimed at producing results of increasing public value. These results are consumed collectively and benefit society as a whole.
The Framework is formed around four independent yet interrelated vectors.
The vertical vectors represent the results pursued by public institutions and public organisations. The NS Frameworks moves beyond agency results and encourages practitioners to rediscover their public purpose through exploring the inter-relationships between agency, system-wide, and public results.
Public organisations also have a special responsibility to contribute to civic results by integrating the role of government with the contributions of citizens and society. Civic results build social capital and contribute to the performance of society through encouraging an active citizenry, resilient communities and a civic spirit.
The horizontal vectors explore ways to make better use of the authority of the state through leveraging the contributions of others. Although the authority of the state is held by a select group of public office holders, the power to change the course of events is distributed throughout society. Government alone does not have the capacity and tools to achieve a number of results of value to society. Addressing systemic challenges such as poverty reduction, climate change, public security, and public health requires a collective effort and shared responsibility between multiple agents and citizens working with government to achieve desired public outcomes.
Taken together, the vectors help public servants to craft their own New Synthesis by considering the dynamic inter-relationship between actors. This opens up new avenues for inventing solutions. At the crossroads of the vectors are tensions to manage, conflicts to resolve, and a variety of opportunities for collaborative solutions. The best solutions are those that lead to progress in the specific context and circumstances faced by practitioners.
The NS Lenses
NS is a process of discovery that encourages practitioners to explore an expanding range of possibilities by pooling resources and capabilities from government, citizens and various agents in society. It encourages applied exploration and public innovation to achieve the desired public outcomes.
Four lenses (positioning, leveraging, engaging and synthesising) are used to guide practitioners through an exploration of the NS Framework.
How an issue is framed influences the possible range of solutions and policy responses available for solving the problem in practice. Positioning is about expanding the range of policy options available to government by encouraging practitioners to use a broader mental map to think about the role of government in society. It invites practitioners to re-connect government actions to their public purpose by exploring the inter-relationships between agency, system-wide, and societal results.
Leveraging explores how to harness the contributions of others to achieve results of high value to society. Based on the understanding that an increasing number of public policy results and intractable problems exceed the capacity of government working alone, leveraging encourages practitioners to seek the greatest possible impact with the least intervention by enrolling the contributions of various actors across government and throughout society. By pooling capabilities and building on the strength of others, governments can achieve better results at a lower overall cost. Taking a step back may be the best way to move forward.
Engaging is about transforming the relationship between government and citizens from one of dependency to one of mutuality and shared responsibility. This builds the collective capacity and produces civic results. Citizens are important assets and active contributors to achieving public outcomes. Engaging aims to explore results that government is best positioned to achieve, those that citizens can produce for themselves, and those that can be best generated by working together. Through combining conventional approaches with practices such as co-creation, co-production, and self-organisation, government and citizens can work together to develop affordable solutions and generate sustainable results by making better use of each other’s assets.
Synthesising is about creating a narrative of change for a better future. A narrative of change helps to reconcile aspirations for the future with concrete actions through:
- Re-framing challenges to focus on societal as well as agency outcomes;
- re-thinking issues to utilise the assets of other actors; and
- re-creating policy responses by engaging society to enact sustainable change.
In synthesising these approaches, practitioners can effectively re-design the narrative surrounding their policy challenge to lead the public transformation they seek to achieve.