Staff and officers from the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) completed a series of workshops to reimagine their services and processes through experimentation. The sessions were part of the Development Academy of the Philippines’ (DAP) partnership with the Asian Productivity Organization and Finland-based think-tank Demos Helsinki on experimentation in the public sector.

Three workshops were conducted online:

  • 7 June: Identifying the problem and the potential solutions
  • 8 June: Defining the experiment hypothesis
  • 22 June: Experiment design and rollout plan

At the end of the sessions, the DOLE team designed an experiment to improve the quality of their auditing and eliminate program implementation deficiencies while the DENR-EMB team will try to incentivize local government units’ compliance with environmental regulations. They will carry out these tests with additional guidance and support coming from the DAP and Demos Helsinki before presenting the results in November.

Lectures complemented the activities by tackling how governments can use experimentation to navigate a highly unpredictable landscape by trying new ideas at a smaller scale. The resource persons also presented cases from the private sector and the government to further expound and contextualize the types, purpose, and benefits of testing.

Opportunity for transformation

The workshops also served as vehicles for introducing new tools and mindsets for brainstorming and planning. They were designed around the idea that even the smallest of experiments could eventually lead to major transformations. Using the Finnish experience with testing universal basic income, Mr. Mikko Annala, Lead of Transformative Governance at Demos Helsinki, explained how the test accelerated the debate on the future of social welfare while reducing potential risks.

Mr. Mikael Sokero, Senior Capacity Building Expert at Demos Helsinki, also highlighted the role of imagination. He emphasized that experimentation, used in a robust way, is a perfect way of looking for a solution outside one’s perceived reality, thus moving away from the fixation on “perfect policies” towards moonshot initiatives.

Mr. Mikael Sokero introduces the participants to his organization’s work.
Mr. Ryan Chua presents examples of hypotheses related to public service delivery

Participants share their thoughts on imagination

Mr. Mikael Sokero explains how innovation is a process of learning and experimentation

The participants take a photo with the resource persons