At corporate level, a business model is a strategy for operating a business. It describes how a company will generate value for its customers. Although public services work differently, it is always interesting to extrapolate some of the aspects from corporate world into the local administration. An interesting model to explore while implementing complex innovative public services is Lean.
The concept of a Lean Startup business is about shorten product development cycles and rapidly discover if a proposed model is viable. Although Lean management principles were pioneered in the private sector, they are transformative for public sector too as local authorities can capture the benefits of Lean thinking to improve citizens’ services, save time and reduce the use of resources. To set up a public service in the most efficient way in terms of time and money spent, should be one of the most important priorities from public bodies.
The central component of Lean methodology is the build-measure-learn feedback loop. Once the problem that needs to be solved is identified, a minimum viable product is developed to learn as quick as possible and adapt the final product to real conditions. When measuring reality, it is easy to pivot and adapt the final design to reduce risks. This methodology is used in private companies and their products, but it is transferrable to public services. From Minimum Viable Policies to Minimum Viable Services, public sectors and in this case, local governments, can take advantage from the experience at private level.
EPIU (Energy Poverty Intelligent Unit) is a UIA initiative aiming, amongst other objectives, to develop an innovative public service to identify and tackle hidden energy poverty in Getafe, a 185.000 population municipality in Spain. To assume that invest resources into iteratively building the service to meet the needs of vulnerable people in the municipality can reduce risks, makes the project more efficient in the use of time and money.
This report deepens on how an initial awareness activity has been transformed into a Minimum Viable Service (MVS) and how startup’s business models are sometimes valid for local innovations too.