What’s all this about then?

If you’ve found your way to this blog post, you’ve stumbled upon a brand new podcast. It’s a podcast about public policy as game show, and it’s called the Department of Bad Ideas. Welcome!

I’m the creator and soon-to-be host of this peculiar endeavour and I’m here to tell you a bit about what you can expect on this auditory rollercoaster into the world of public policy.

In a nutshell

The Department of Bad Ideas is a podcast about public policy, but disconnected from reality.

People working in public policy – like me and some of the guests you’ll hear from – usually have to solve complex problems within ever tighter constraints. This podcast is about exploring what happens when you take most of the constraints away and ask people to reach for the most outrageous ideas they can think of.

In each episode, our guests will engage in a battle of policy ideation and wits. Their task is to come up with the best-worst ideas possible. They have to be impractical, unpalatable or entirely nonsensical.

What to expect

Each episode will consist of four rounds.

In each of the first two rounds, guests are given a policy problem ahead of time that they will be asked to solve. The problem could be anything from the ridiculous to the real: like preparing for an alien invasion, or solving a shortage of teachers in schools.

Forewarned with both problems, they will have five minutes in each round to pitch their solution. In round one, our guests will pitch the most impractical but most politically attractive idea they can think of to solve the problem. In the second round, they have to do the opposite: find a brilliantly practical idea that will crash and burn when it reaches the Red Box.

In the third round, our guests will pitch their Big Idea. They’ll get to suggest the biggest, boldest and best solution they can think of to any problem they want to try to fix. The problem can be totally real or totally ridiculous, but the solution must be brilliant.

The final round will be different: instead of preprepared pitches, guests will have to think on their feet. They’ll be given more policy problems to solve — but this time they’ll do it on the fly. Just to make things more difficult, they’ll have to do it without hesitation or repetition.

In each round, points are awarded for originality, presentation, practicality and political attractiveness; and for the final round they get an extra point for every second they speak without repetition or hesitation.

At the end of each round, I’ll award points for originality, presentation, practicality and political attractiveness.

When we’re all done, I total up the points. Points mean absolutely nothing, but our guests can at least gloat at their ridiculous idea generating prowess.

Don’t take it too seriously

One thing you should know is that whilst this is a contest and our guests will be taking it deadly seriously, you shouldn’t take it seriously at all! Believe nothing you hear, as we’ll all just be making it up as we go along.

The topics discussed are entirely random, so if there’s any correlation or similarity with real world events, it’s either entirely coincidental or a product of your own imagination.

What comes next

Recording of the podcast is going to start soon. I’m aiming to record a batch of episodes and then release them as a series in 2020.

You’ll be able to download the podcast from the Apple Podcasts app, subscribe directly to the feed, or just listen to episodes on this website.

If you’d like to be a guest on the podcast, there’s still time! More details can be found in this blog post.