L e v e l - 7

Tools For A New Political Economy

The Pilot Principle


This concept is obvious enough in a change management context that it shouldn’t require much elaboration - unfortunately, it is all-too-rarely implemented in political and economic environments charged with narrow, often polarized special interest agendas.

Basically the idea here is that all new ideas, policies, projects, programs and changes be tested on a small scale prior to larger scale implementations - as proof-of-concept, to work out any unforeseen bugs, assess efficacy and get feedback from stakeholders. It’s really that simple. The duration of a pilot should be long enough to collect good data - I should think a year or more for most community-level experiments. It may also make sense to begin a small number of pilots in different regions to test the concept in varied environments. The key of course is to have specific metrics to track whether outcomes match up with expectations - and whether any unintended consequences seem to be manifesting. If things are looking good at the end of the initial pilot, it’s time for a wider implementation/replication of the pilot program with whatever adjustments seem prudent, with more metrics and more data, amplifying the scale, accuracy and complexity of the feedback loop across diverse environments.

In a way, the piloting and measuring should never really end - the scope of the pilot will just get larger and the duration longer. But the metrics need to continue to be in play, with adjustments made continually until a better idea comes along. At which point the small pilots can begin again…and replicate, be assessed, expand, etc.

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