Solving Public Problems by Beth Simone Noveck

Coming from a career of many years working in the private sector in the United Kingdom, and a few years at a regulator, I joined the public sector and was astounded by the differences! Working for a private company, the goal was always making money and pleasing the shareholders; public sector priorities were completely different. 

Beth Simone Noveck's book addresses the challenges of public sector delivery and problem solving; how the public sector mentality needs to change to be ready to solve the challenges the society is facing now which are very different from 20 years ago. There are pockets of this 'new' approach to delivering public services, but it definitely needs to be more wide spread.

As Noveck states: "We cannot expect to tackle tomorrow’s problems with yesterday’s toolkit."

Noveck sets out the challenges in a clear and concise way, and also presents approaches on how to make the public sector more agile, more problem focused and more welcoming to input from those living in the 'real' world that public sector policy teams are creating policies for.

Noveck points out that to succeed policy teams must spend time to understand the problem, to define it properly, BEFORE starting to find solutions, rather than jump straight in to solve it.  The risk of a 'quick approach' is that a solution is created for a problem that never even existed. Involving the general public is critical for success. In its simplest form, this can be done by an online survey and there are lots of cheap (or even free) tools available online.

Thank you for an immensely inspirational and easily accessible book on this new way of working for the public sector; in many cases the private sector is already using this approach. I wish that this book, or the course mentioned above, were made mandatory for our civil servants / public sector workers in the United States, United Kingdom and beyond. 

If you like the sound of this and want to find out more, please don't forget to check out the FREE ONLINE course by TheGovLab at

PS. Noveck has a pretty impressive background including being recognised by Barack Obama (US),  Angela Merkel (Germany) and David Cameron (UK). To see the details, please head over to:

Full title: Solving Public Problems: A Practical Guide to Fix Our Government and Change Our World. Book is available on Amazon and any good bookshops, (link to Amazon).

This review has also been posted on my book review blog as I received and advance electronic copy via #NetGalley #SolvingPublicProblems