A less W.E.I.R.D take on government adaptation: join us on our learning journey.

What could be possible in the world if governments worked differently?

Today, we’re experiencing great, global, challenges: climate change; equitable access to education and healthcare; inclusion in the digital economy, polity and society; the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, including rising inequality.

Governments play a vital role in tackling the challenges of today. We have a hunch- shared with others- that governments need to work differently to tackle the challenges of the future. That unlocking the government of the future is key to our collective, better future.

Inspired by UNDP/Dark Matter Labs (2020) https://awayforward.undp.org/)

We at Brink are most curious to explore government capabilities for adaptation.

What would be possible if governments worked in ways more fit for our non-linear world? If they moved from tackling the challenges of today to anticipating the challenges of the future? If governments could innovate and enable innovation in others? If they allowed for emergence, adapted to the unexpected, and learned and adapted faster and more meaningfully? If they could be, fundamentally, more human?

In the last few years, Brinksters have supported large organisations to transform and become transformative (“like change management on acid”, a friend told us). We have helped governments try things out and experiment in policy making and implementation (check out our EdTech Hub and ASTON programmes). We’ve worked with government departments to mainstream innovation and adaptation (such as in our LearnAdapt programme). In short, we’ve been thinking deeply about what an adaptive and innovative organisation looks like.

We’re not alone in imagining the power of an adaptive bureaucracy. Nor are we the first to explore it. Among the things we need to know is what difference (if any) Brink can make. Can we, along with others, make a difference in the world by supporting governments to be adaptive?

The imagination and research of others has inspired us. OECD, States of Change, Dark Matter Labs, ODI, to name a few. The stories of people working to make adaptation in government a reality inspire us even more. (Check out the Human Learning Systems pioneers). We’d like to continue learning from others.

And here’s our challenge. Our explorations so far have led us to a way of thinking heavily influenced by people and institutions in White Western-educated Industrialised Rich Democracies. Otherwise known as W.E.I.R.D contexts.

We’d like to learn what being or becoming an adaptive bureaucracy means in practice. And we’d like to confront our own W.E.I.R.D perspectives, to develop a picture that more readily reflects the real possibilities in the world.

Our question is: what ideas and practices are there from non-White Western-educated Industrialised Rich Democracies, and how can that shift the global perspective on adaptation?

So we’re going on a journey of discovery. On behalf of Brink, we (Ciku Mbugua and Jess Price) are going out into the world to talk to people. We’ll gather insights to build a more meaningful picture of adaptation in governments. And understand what our place could be in bringing about a change in the way governments work.

Going on a journey together! Left to right: our Co-Founder Lea Simpson, Jess, Ciku, and our Learning and Adaptation Lead, Emma Proud.

As we learn with and from others, we will share our learning out loud, with you- in social media posts, in blogs like this one, or even virtual events. Maybe we can spark for you what so many others have sparked and will spark for us.


Join us, help us.

Who do we need to talk with and listen to? Is it you? Please share your suggestions, responses, ideas, or reach out for a chat. You can email us on [email protected] and [email protected]

Let the non-W.E.I.R.D journey begin!