Fundamentals unpacked: continuing the conversation

The touchstone for any government should be the results it achieves for its citizens. In October 2016, in order to help power the journey from idea to impact, we launched the Public Impact Fundamentals, a systematic attempt to understand what makes a successful policy outcome and what can be done to maximise the chances of achieving public impact.

In a nutshell, we argue that any government initiative needs three things: a well-designed policy; sufficient legitimacy; and a proper action mechanism to translate that policy into real-world effect.  The Fundamentals help governments and their partners systematically assess current and proposed policies and develop structured points of view on why policies are likely to succeed or fail – and what can be done about it.

Over the past nine months, we have been engaging with national and local governments in more than 20 countries around the world, international organisations such as the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, thinktanks such as the Royal Society of Arts and the Brookings Institution, and many others, in order to leverage the Fundamentals’ concepts and tools.

We have also developed a self-assessment tool that will be able to score any initiative and provide an indication of its likelihood of success. The data behind it comes from the 300 case studies in our Observatory, and the results of the assessment highlight areas in which policies need to be improved to achieve tangible results for citizens. At the same time, we continue to develop new case studies (60 since January, addressing government failures as well as successes).

The many interactions we have had with practitioners who use the Public Impact Fundamentals have sharpened our understanding of how the framework can help policymakers achieve better impact. We have therefore decided to launch a series of articles to explain how the Fundamentals relate to other influential frameworks, concepts and tools that are available to governments and academics. The series will also address some of the most frequently asked questions about the Public Impact Fundamentals.

Over the coming months, we will publish a series of articles about what we have learnt on this journey. We are grateful to the academics, civil servants, students and everyone else who took the time to engage with what we had created and, through their probing questions, helped us clarify our own thinking.

While we hope to share our thinking in response to some of the questions we get asked most frequently this series of blog posts will by no means provide definitive answers. The Public Impact Fundamentals remain a work in progress and our understanding of the framework keeps evolving as we work alongside governments to improve public impact.

If you wish to write a piece on a particular aspect of the Fundamentals, or simply ask how the Fundamentals relate to other theories and frameworks in public policy, please do not hesitate to contact us at We are looking forward to hearing your opinions and reactions.


Read all the articles in the Fundamentals Unpacked series