Sustaining interest in Public Services by Design projects

As projects moved from ideas to delivery, it became clear that the high-ranking ‘officials’ who took part in the initial ideas workshops, and the partnership delivery was not sustained.  By the end of the project, the core group involved in delivery was limited to several (often more junior) council officers and a handful of committed community members.

Of this committed group of community leads, we could see clearly that the individuals that remained engaged in the process are those whose personal interest aligns strongly with the outcomes of the project (personal interest may mean the aims of their organisations or the benefit of their own neighbourhood).

This is of course completely understandable but should reaffirm to the council that, for those working in a voluntary capacity or as a community member, personal interest is paramount in determining the activities they will get involved in.  Projects that are community-led are more likely to lead to sustained engagement of the individuals.  Conversely, the council should expect gaps in community provision if interest doesn’t exist at grass roots level. In adopting this way of working, the council may need to acknowledge that facilities in some areas will look markedly different from others as a result.

4 Responses to Sustaining interest in Public Services by Design projects

  1. salomesimoes says:

    Is it the case that those who dropped out of the process did so because their idea was not taken forward? How do we channel the good will and enthusiasm of the people whose ideas we are not able to directly support?

  2. salomesimoes says:

    The ‘diagonal dozen’ workshop was an approach proposed by the Public Services by Design – to gather public sector partners and community leads in a room to reframe the problem and design innovative solutions. This was extraordinarily successful – 96 project ideas were generated demonstrating the wide perspective that this approach fostered.

    When it came to delivery, however, it might have been unrealistic to expect those in the room at the start of the process to be the ones to continue onto delivery. The necessarily small scale of the projects meant that they would not be identified as ‘priorities’ for partnership organisations. And the cross cutting remit of many of the projects meant that they do not fall clearly into the job descriptions those there in a formal capacity. As a result, very few of those present at the initial meeting remained to the end of the process.

  3. Both Yvonne and I noted that the ‘community’ could have been involved in a greater capacity from the outset. I understand that you can’t have everyone there but High Trees wasn’t there at the start of the process and the tenants and residents association for the Tulse Hill Estate should have been represented. Yvonne has mentioned elsewhere that it was a hard sell to convince the residents that they wanted these projects – it may have been better to find out what they saw as the problems and what solutions they proposed.

  4. There was a period of several weeks down time after the initial meetings where ‘the hub’ was set up to operate as a project office (this involved getting a colour printer installed and council wifi connection). It was important to seize the momentum from those initial workshops and demonstrate that the council can work in new ways, for example by subsiding the cafe to install it’s own wifi connection, which would have been quicker and a more effective solution long term.

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