Innovation for Policy process (i4Policy v3.1)

i4Policy is an iterative policy-making process that has been implemented nationally in more than a dozen countries. i4Policy also establishes an ontology of democratic innovations.

Problems and Purpose

Innovation for Policy (i4Policy) proposes a new lexicon for democratic innovations and modularizes the policy-making process. This enables the identification of the most appropriate policy design principles, practices and pathways (or ingredients, recipes, and meal planning to build on the metaphor established by Archon Fung).[1] i4Policy, thereby, facilitates the use of different (and even seemingly contradictory and distinct) approaches. A single i4Policy process may, for example, juxtapose inclusive, deliberative, and elite activities while featuring both unitary and adversarial approaches and decision-rules.[2] The framework also helps to simplify and communicate the overall policy-making process to facilitate collaboration amongst “policy users” (the people affected by public policy), experts, and policy makers.

i4Policy is also designed to popularize and bring to life what Rao calls “reflectivism”: policy-making that emphasizes processes and incrementally addresses systems-level outcomes, such as pedagogy, empathy, social cohesion, self-efficacy, agency, and structural transformation.[3]

Origins and Development

The i4Policy process was originally developed by Jon Stever. Stever co-founded the Innovation for Policy Foundation to further the development and use of the process, and associated open source co-creation tools, methodologies, protocols and software. The i4Policy process emerged from a practice-based design, and remains under continued, iterative development through practice, research and dialogue with practitioners, academics, policy professionals, trainees and participants.

In addition to the process, i4policy may also refer to both the Foundation ( and to a grassroots movement (#i4Policy; innovators for policy). The #i4Policy movement was collaboratively initiated by innovation community leaders across Africa, and brings together community conveners who share common values and an interest to deploy co-creation methodologies to support their governments with innovative policy-making for innovation (this is articulated in the i4policy Manifesto, which was co-created by community conveners and citizens across 45 countries in Africa).[4] 

i4Policy v3.1 is licensed CC-BY-SA 4.0 by the Innovation for Policy Foundation, 2019.

How it Works

i4Policy v3.1 has three main phases and 11 action stages. The process is iterative and non-linear.

Agenda Setting Phase:

The phase in which issues are recognized as public concerns and seriously debated by politically-relevant actors. Common interests are understood and formed, specific problem statements are defined, weighed and prioritized to establish a user-centered agenda for reform.

The Agenda Setting phase has four stages:

Empathize: Map the needs, constraints, and influence of actors to understand potential policy reform pathways

Unite: Build a unifying common interest that can mobilize policy users, experts and policy makers behind reform

Define: Articulate clear and concise problem statements, descriptions of the specific issues or conditions to be addressed, in order to achieve the common interest

Prioritise: Rank problem statements based on their impact and urgency to set the agenda

Drafting Phase:

Potential solutions are explored and developed into concrete proposals and policy instruments (laws, strategies, policies, visions, regulatory changes, institutional design, etc). Draft policy proposals are then reviewed by experts and users, with iterative feedback loops of further ideation, design, review and consultation. 

The Drafting phase has four stages:

Ideate: brainstorm potential solutions to address the prioritized policy agenda  

Design: Iteratively transform the policy ideas into concrete policy propositions through co-creation

Review: Analyze the technical, operational, legal, financial, economic and social impacts of the policy

Consult: Host open and/or discursive platforms and forums to collect and organize policy user feedback

Implementation Phase:

Policies are proposed and adopted through appropriate rule-making processes. Evaluations are then conducted throughout implementation to inform policy delivery, review performance against goals, and to support policy iteration. 

The implementation phase has three stages: 

Adopt: Propose and enact the reviewed and consulted policy framework

Deliver: Operationalize the policy framework. This may include piloting and sandboxing. 

Evaluate: Track the policy implementation transparently against its intended outcomes.

Analysis and Lessons Learned

The process has been initiated (in whole or in part) for policy reform processes in 13 African countries (as of 03/2020). This has resulted in a number of concrete policies being collaboratively developed, including a national vision, policies, strategies and two laws, including the Senegal Startup Act that was passed in December 2019. The co-creation processes have also influenced pan-African policies, such as the AU's 2020-2030 Digital Transformation Strategy.

See Also


[1] Fung 2003, “Survey Article: Recipes for Public Spheres: Eight Institutional Design Choices and Their Consequences” The Journal of Political Philosophy: Volume 11, Number 3, 2003, pp. 338-367.

[2] Mansbridge, J. 1980. Beyond Adversary Democracy.

[3] Rao 2019, “Commentary: Process-Policy & Outcome-Policy: Rethinking How to Address Poverty & Inequality” Dædalus: Summer 2019.

[4] "Africa Innovation Policy Manifesto v2.0D." Retrieved from