How can we adapt to the new policy environment?

4 min readJan 23, 2021

How can we use our understanding of need, lessons learned of what we need to recover, review or reinvent and future scenarios to prioritise how we transition our services out of lockdown and adapt our ways of working and policies to the new environment?

We want to use the insights to identify what areas we need to do further analysis on the implications or make decisions as well as bring together staff to test out ways to recover, reinvent & renew.

1. Using insights to prioritise adapting services to new normal

To do the above, we have focused on:

  • Impact we’re seeking to have: Prioritising the services/strategies where radical change is most needed to adapt to the new environment
  • What we know about the issue: Analysing future trends, lessons learnt, need and government policy
  • What levers we need to use: Prioritising what levers & resources we need to mobilise internally and externally
  • Actions needed to drive impact: Prioritising what activities are needed to help adapt services/strategies to new normal

As a result, we supported services to surface what lessons they had learned on:

  • How they work with residents
  • How they work together
  • How they deliver services
  • How they work with partners
  • How they work with government

In parallel, we supported services to carry out scenario planning to anticipate different scenarios from both a pandemic response point of view, Brexit and economic perspective.

  • Mapped the drivers shaping the future policy environment
  • Identified the critical uncertainties
  • Developed scenarios
  • Developed a methodology to stress test policies & services against the scenarios

By identifying priority themes that emerged from the lessons learned like disproportionality, food poverty or the digital divide, we then carried out workshops with staff to test/embed opportunities for innovation on each of these themes, and provided support for services to test out innovative ways of working to needs & services/policies.

The lessons learned also helped us develop a needs framework and a service transition matrix, which we subsequently used to workshop with staff how we tackle current & emerging needs on a specific area, and support to services to help them anticipate & respond to new demand, adapt service design to new environments. It also helped service key decisions needed, which helped us prioritise further analysis or business cases, sequence activities needed to deliver change and resource & manage the delivery of change.

The scenario planning work helped us produce a scenarios & trends analysis, which we then used to run workshops with staff to help them adapt & flex services to scenarios — such as anticipating exit/s from lockdown, future local outbreaks and different Brexit deals, and support to stress test policies to scenarios & changes in government direction, like around community support at a neighbourhood level to tackle the pandemic, food provision over the holidays for people in need or how to work with our supply chains to tackle provision issues arising from Brexit.

2. Use the collective levers we have as a council and our partners have to deliver change

One key lesson we learnt and that we have tested is that we have different levers we can use. Some of these levers are more interventionist (like regulations), while others are more influencing (like place-shaping).

Different activities to transition services to the new normal will be at different stages and so the tools we use need to be different. By having multidisciplinary teams supporting services, you can identify the best levers to help a service/policy adapt to the new environment.

If you want to find out more about what we’ve done, check out this blogpost, but I’d recommend reading this blog by Adam Groves on how you can work out what levers you use across different layers of change.

3. Prioritising what role we’re best placed to play in different situations

We implement guidance from Government, London Councils and other professional bodies

We influence those bodies based on our priorities and insight from staff, partners & residents

We collaborate with councils on areas where resource is best shared, as well as with other sectors

We assess the impact of our actions and of government guidance on our communities & places to identify where best to collaborate or influence

The lessons learned has helped us identify what roles we are best placed at in different situations.




Head of Policy Design, Scrutiny & Partnerships @newhamlondon #localgov Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese