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Anticipate Consequences

Government officials, considering new legislation or policies, frequently adjust, increase or cut taxes or debt (borrowing), or bring new groups into or out of a specific tax or security regime, or change the rules governing such regimes.  The considerations are financial and money-based, the stuff that economists can deal with.  The "Innovation" programs arose from a different model of innovation.  

The basic idea behind developing these innovations has been to use a systemic approach to (1) find a conflict of interest that so far has been treated as normal and acceptable by the political system and (2) identify those benefiting from the conflict of interest, including those people and organizations that prosper by supporting and working for those who benefit directly.  Many, if not all, of these players are deeply entrenched in the status quo and reluctant to change.  An innovation concept must be developed that shows how to undo the conflict of interest in such a way that all affected parties do better after implementation (or at least as well), taking into account both their before and after motivations.  

The full range of motivations is much broader than motives based on profit or on an entirely financial consideration.  Examples:  Regardless of profitability or economic gain, people in general are greatly gratified (1) and enjoy working with all kinds of others within a system that is fair, equitable and much more efficient at producing valuable public and private goods, services, or information for everybody or for large underserved groups or (2) by being free, that is having a fair measure of control over the forces that otherwise constrain them.  These ideas are anathemas to economists who cannot admit or consider any motivation other than economic self-interest.  If they did do so, and a few do, they would show by example that the methods that economists use are preventing the world from working in a better way.  We discussed this in Skirt Traps to avoid the traps that thwart social innovation. 

Of course it is possible that a particular social innovation misses the proper formulation of motivation in some circumstances and could produce a failure.  That is why enormous attention is paid in our social innovation process toward analyzing and testing the motivations of all those affected.  The process is long and slow as described in "Skirt Traps," because it requires obtaining the support, almost one by one, of millions of people who slowly see the light.  Economists have no place in the social innovation game unless they disown the relevance of the lynch-pin of economic theory -- that money is the only motivation that matters to people.