Great blog on all things coproduction….

January 28, 2013

There is a really interesting blog on coproduction from our friends at Social Spaces:

http://www.collaborate.so/

The latest publication from Finland im finding particually useful!

 

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The Work Shop – from pop up council to coop council

December 3, 2012

Lambeth has set out its stall to become a cooperative council by 2014 and to transform the way it works in order to achieve this. One of the most important distinguishing features of this vision is to establish a fundamentally different relationship between citizens and the local authority – one based on collaboration, reciprocity and cooperation.

Changing things is tough, anyone working in large organisations or in the business of social change knows this all too well….of course it’s possible, but it can be a slog. One of things that helps creative thinking is to disrupt normal patterns of behaviour or thinking – causing us to question ‘normal’ ways of working and shakes us out of our pre-conceptions about business as usual.

We started to think about how we could begin to disrupt our normal approach to engaging residents in discussions, to develop a different, more ‘cooperative’, conversation.

The result is the Work Shop.The Work Shop window

Lambeth Council has taken a short term let on a vacant shop on West Norwood High Street to set up the Work Shop. Over the next few weeks we will be trying to reach out to the people who live, work and visit the area and inviting them to join us for a cup of tea, a conversation and more as we explore the possibilities to work better together.

Three days a week – including some evenings and weekends, so as many people as possible are able to pop in – we will be running a programme of talks, hosted conversations and workshops on a wide range of topics. Some will be led by council officers, some by public sector partners and others by local voluntary and community groups. You can find out more about what’s going on here. But in addition to these more ‘formal’ elements, there will be plenty of more informal opportunities to engage.

We don’t expect everyone to want to come to a workshop, at least not at first….the Work Shop has installations of things going on in the area, inspirational examples of what can be achieved through collaboration, and space to capture people’s ideas of how things might be changed for the better. We’ll also be doing some asset mapping – gathering community perspectives on the services, buildings, people, talents, ambitions and passions that the local community has and values. This will be crucial in helping to inform what happens in the future and is part of a much wider shift in how Lambeth, as a Cooperative Council, views its citizens and communities.the work shop

A shop on the high street in one part of the borough for a few weeks is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a panacea for the myriad challenges we need to overcome in order to realise the vision of the Cooperative Council. Rather, it is an experiment in the art of the possible…an attempt to test out a new way of working with citizens, which we can learn from and apply to other parts of the organisation in the future.

We are not content to sit in the Town Hall and pump out laudable policy documents about how things will be different in the future. The Work Shop takes the conversation out into the community, changes the rules of engagement and, we hope, provides an opportunity for a more creative and meaningful conversation about what the Cooperative Council could be.

If you’re in the area, pop in for a cup of tea and a chat. If not, then we’ll be posting regular updates as we go along.


Coproducing a Food Strategy

November 9, 2012

We have used ‘appreciative enquiry’ to find out about how a new Lambeth sustainable and healthy food strategy is being coproduced.

Why coproduction?

  • Demand for a food strategy has come from citizens via the huge interest in food-growing. Incredible Edible Lambeth, a loose network of food growing projects, is represented in the Food Partnership
  • Coproduction allows citizens to take a leadership role
  • The Council has an ambition for the food strategy to be an exemplar of a co-produced strategy

What is different?

  • The Council is not leading the process – it is a partner (although the Council is providing some resources – funding from Invest to Save fund)
  • We are expecting the food strategy to be written over a long time, and that untraditionally, some actions may happen before the strategy is agreed
  • The first focus is to form a Partnership working group (often strategy is written first and then partnership set up to deliver the strategy)

What coproduction tools are you using?

  • Appreciative Inquiry – got people to tell stories, amazing ‘project’ food brought into event – very inspiring
  • Asset Mapping/Activity Mapping
  • Participatory Appraisal (essentially talking to people in the street)
  • World Cafe-style workshops and events
  • Social networking
  • Use of networks
  • Visits

What is working?

  • We are building a strong partnership / collaborative
  • We are building up a body of evidence
  • Events have been well attended and they have created a ‘buzz’

 What are the benefits?

  • Buy-in from the partners so far is very strong
  • We are bringing in new partners
  • We seem to have a high degree of credibility

What isn’t working so far?

  • We have had to keep the working group small to start with – this doesn’t feel very open and cooperative
  • Writing the strategy is likely to take a long time – is this a problem?
  • We don’t have a very clear ‘mission’ statement – communicating what a food strategy might do outside of the council or NHS is difficult
  • It is difficult to reach decisions because we want a lot of change and to affect a lot of different groups

What would you do differently next time?

  • Ensure that Incredible Edible Lambeth (citizen group) properly resourced. They have had to secure some external funding for capacity building to get themselves into a position to be an equal ‘partner’.

If you are interested in getting involved with the Lambeth Food Partnership please contact Sue Sheehan ssheehan@lambeth.gov.uk


Real ‘action learning’ on coproduction – now monthly

November 9, 2012

The Coproduction Action Learning Set is now the meeting place of coproduction practitioners in the Council. It takes place once a month and provides a space where officers and colleagues from outside the council can get together to share ideas and brainstorm/barrier-bust projects.

Coproduction is still new in Lambeth. Many of us have coproduced projects, with varying degrees of success. It is only by sharing what has and what has not worked that we will improve our practice, and extend it all to all areas of the borough.

At the October Coproduction Action Learning Set we broke into five groups to deal with specific projects where we could collectively come up with a coproduction approach.

The five projects we dealt with were:

  • Adult social care day centres
  • Using e-learning to develop coproduction skills
  • Office Accommodation Strategy
  • Start your own food business workshops in West Norwood
  • Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme

Most of the projects stuck to a recommended format:

  • Brainstorm WHO is affected by the project
  • Brainstorm available RESOURCES
  • Start to put together an ACTION PLAN – using PEOPLE and RESOURCES indentified
  • Identify BARRIERS

The Actions we came up with were:

  • Start communicating – use corporate comms. but also informal comms. and networks – lots of discussion about starting a conversation and sharing ideas/articles and knowledge by whatever means possible eg from social networking and on-line interactive tools to just talking over a cup of tea, or when bump into someone in the kitchen. The latter are likely to encourage ‘honest’ conversation.
  •  Use Go-to people – there are people who have networks, contact and can make things happen. Identify them and work with them.
  • Use networks intelligently. Lots of discussion about creating a network of street champions so that everyone in the borough is ‘connected’ and easily contactable
  • Idea of ‘buckets of info’. So that people are not bombarded with information, have the information available in certain places so that they can go out and get what they need whenever they need it, and can subscribe to the things they are interested.
  • Hold events but make sure the environment is welcoming so that it encourages conversation – eg use community café style, make tea, share thoughts/ideas (don’t just give information).
  • Talk about coproduction
  • Reframe existing guidance and advice. Often information is available eg business advice on website, but it needs to be combined with other more specific advice eg food safety and then it would be more rounded and complete. It would also require less council resources ultimately. We could also train more staff and contractors to give advice and mentor individuals. E.g. in the case of business advice this might help staff to become more entrepreneurial, which is in the spirit of the coop council anyway.
  • Market analysis – understand where the gaps are and what is available already.
  • Encourage time banking
  • Encourage buddying (already used by social services but could be extended significantly)
  • Maximise use of council buildings. Schools etc. are only used for certain hours of the day.
  • Share information

The Barriers we came up with were:

  • People are fearful of change, particularly families/carers etc. who are dependent on social care services
  • We may need to have safety nets in place – for example if we reduce the number of buildings we might become over-dependent on expensive-to-hire space, or lose access to good quality space.
  • There is already generally a lack of affordable space eg for start-up businesses and community groups
  • It can be hard to reach agreement/consensus – especially for big change.
  • Politics – we spoke last time about a tendency to strive for the mediocre so as not to upset too many people
  • Lack of internal resources – staff are often overstretched
  • Go-to people are often overstretched and hold on to knowledge
  • We need more support for capacity building of community groups – we know that street champions/neighbourhood groups offer a huge opportunity for cooperative working but there is some confusion and overlap.
  • Need to make sure we don’t exclude people by depending too much on existing networks and not ensuring that everyone is networked.

We asked project owners to report back in the future about whether they have been able to action any of the actions or bust any of the barriers, as a result of the workshop.

 

Next workshop Thursday 29th November, 10-12.30am RSVP SSheehan@lambeth.gov.uk

As usual the workshop will not have an agenda. This time we will use a completely Open Space format. You take responsibility for getting out of the event, what you need to get out of it (more explanation of how this works at the beginning of the session).

We did agree there will be a barrier-busting session focusing on ‘access to affordable space’. Please let me know if you would like to tackle a particular ‘barrier’  or issue in the next session, or just come along with your idea.

I will look for several projects to put themselves forward for a ‘treatment’ by the group. I have already identified one project. Please let me know if you have a project, or just come along with your idea

 

We encourage people to BRING A FRIEND as a way of expanding the group and the sharing the knowledge.

 

 


Coproduction Action Learning set 2 – Good for Nothing

August 9, 2012

The July Coproduction Action Learning Set session heard from Tom from Good for Nothing who explained the Good for Nothing process and showed a film about the first GFN event in Lambeth which looked at healthwatch, webspace and parks / open spaces (for more info on this please click here).  The next GFN event will be held in October and members of the action learning set suggested that the Lambeth country Show in September would be an ideal place to publicise it.

Tom reflected on some of the lessons that they have learned about coproduction:

  • that coproduction works best when there are clear enough parameters for participants to see how they can add value and make a difference, and that these need to be published in advance of any coproduction events,
  • that there cannot be so many constraints that it makes it difficult to take new ideas on board
  • to increase inclusivity and ensure solutions fit the needs of a range of different kinds of people coproducers need to go out and talk to people outside the room as part of the coproduction process
  • to take things forward after an initial event requires strong ownership from a range of different people and organisations (not just the council- but the council definitely needs to be one of the owners)

Officers reflected on the Good for Nothing approach and agreed:

  • The council (both staff and elected members) need to be less risk averse, but recognised that this was a significant cultural challenge!
  • That organisational development will be needed to help give officers the skills they need

Members of the coproduction action learning set then discussed some of the ways they were embedding coproduction and the challenges they were facing (and in some cases were overcoming!). These included

  • embedding community decisions into the procurement process around youth services (a challenge overcome through joint working);
  • the ongoing development of a council-wide organisational development strategy;
  • working together with a range of neighbourhood groups to agree how additional council support for neighbourhood plans will be distributed and  
  • enabling learning disabled residents to mystery shop services.

The next coproduction action learning set session is planned for September 27th in the Town Hall and will explore how we can make sure that coproduction is inclusive and accessible to all. Please get in touch for a forward programme or for more information about the next session.


Made in Lambeth catch up – 12th July

July 13, 2012

Yesterday afternoon the Made in Lambeth team had a great catch up at the Town Hall in Brixton. It was a chance to get an update on the three projects that were developed at the last event, as well as looking forward to the next event and what projects we could work on in October. Council staff were pleasantly surprised by the amount of people who showed up! It shows that people are keen to stay involved and to contribute to designing and creating local services. A brief round up of the main points follows.

The website project is going well, we are working out ways to build up the content in the new website using the work done on the open source website developed at Made in Lambeth. The Love Your Space project is being pushed forward by Public Realm services, who are keen to maintain this as a community led project which allows people to identify unloved spaces and then enable them to do something about them themselves. The design for coproducing Healthwatch will go to cabinet in September, and the plans for this are based on the output from the Good for Nothing event. If approved, they will want to revisit the Good for Nothing Healthwatch team to get involved in the coproduction process.

Following the updates there was some really strong and useful feedback on the first event which we can take forward to the next one. This includes:

  • The council needs to be clearer about letting go and transferring power. Being clear that it wants the public to lead on projects, giving permission to take a project and run with it.
  • Develop a project pack for each of the new projects selected that includes background information, data, contacts etc.
  • Identify networks outside of twitter/facebook in order to encourage people with skills to come along. Think about offline networks locally to attract a more diverse range of skilled people.
  • Think about some methods of incentivising people to come along – a crèche?
  • Ownership of projects continues to be important, need someone there who is clear they have the resource to take the work forward beyond the event. Also they could share this ownership with a service user / recipient?
  • The group didn’t feel that much more structure to the events was needed, but did feel that the goals of the event should be more strongly defined at the outset. Especially around doing not talking, voting with your feet and divide and conquer.
  • There was enthusiasm for having regular evening meet ups, but people wanted the format to be different and to learn from our own mantra – less talking more doing! A date for the next one is the 1st August and will take place later on in the evening so that Good for Nothingers can get there after work. Need to think about how we create a space for doing, and can use this space to select future projects.

Following this conversation we started to talk about projects for the next event. Some specific projects were discussed, and from this some clear themes started to emerge:

  • Asset mapping – this came up again and again. There is a need for communities to start to identify the skills in their borough and learn how to engage and enthuse with people who have the skills needed for particular projects. There is a need to learn how to recognise skills – for example someone may be great at project planning, but they wouldn’t necessarily call their skills ‘project planning’. A pool of resources needs to be created which could be utilised by a range of projects.
  • Adding value to existing networks –there is a diverse range of communities and different groups and networks in Lambeth, an excellent resource that would largely welcome being utilised. Yet bringing them together to work presents its own challenges, how can we do so in a way that adds value, not undermines organic structures. A problem which Made in Lambeth could happily tackle!
  • Incentivisation – Why should people get involved in the cooperative council, what’s in it for them? In order to engage people you need some form of reciprocity, Made in Lambeth could explore this and come up with ways of engaging the unengagable!

We can explore these themes in more detail at our next get together. As mentioned above the next meeting will be on the 1st august at 6pm, and we hope to create a more relaxed set up with no set agenda. If you want to come along do so between 6-8pm, with the aim of making things as much as possible. If you have any ideas for this, please let me know.

Another date for the diary is the 13/14 October 2012 – the second Made in Lambeth event.

See you then!

Nathan Pierce


Coproduction Action Learning Set

June 20, 2012

Over the past year Lambeth Council has run a Coproduction Action Learning Set – an informal network where Lambeth staff share learning and ideas about coproduction. Coproduction is a simple idea, and one that has been explored on this toolkit in some detail. Each meeting allocates about half the time to exploring a theme related to coproduction; and the rest of the time to sharing challenges and successes enabling staff to support each other as they grow their skills in coproduction.

The May meeting focused on the role of procurement in coproducing services. The Action Learning Set heard a presentation from Eugene McLaughlin, Interim Head of Procurement at Lambeth and discussed ways the council needs to take a different attitude to risk in order to really deliver Cooperative Council values. The group also explored how residents might be more involved in the procurement process, ways in which procurement can be involved earlier in the process of commissioning a service and they also looked at what national and EU regulation could act as barriers to coproduction.

Future Coproduction Action Learning Set sessions will focus on:

  • July – Feedback from the Good for Nothing event. At this session we will have feedback regarding the Good for Nothing event from the three project leads (parks, council communications and health and social care services), highlighting the innovative methods of coproduction that were developed and looking at the problems or issues that arose.
  • September – Ensuring coproduction is inclusive/accessible to all. In this event we will explore how to identify what groups/individuals could be involved in coproduction, and how you then reach out and get them involved. We will also get detailed feedback from cultural services regarding the coproduction of Lambeth’s libraries.
  • November – Sustaining participation throughout the process. One of the key challenges in the sustainability of coproduction, is not just getting people involved for a one-off event, but sustaining an open dialogue over the longer term. This session will start to explore the theme of incentives and how you might use them to enable sustained coproduction
  • January – Managing conflicts/ facilitating between what stakeholders and senior managers/members identify as priorities. This session will describe Lambeth’s decision making process and explore how this may sometimes be a barrier to coproduction. It will explore how far the council is prepared to open up and accept the results of coproduction, and what changes need to be made to procedure/culture in order to improve.
  • March – Coproducing the ‘strategic’ rather than service. This session will consider the challenges associated with coproducing a high level strategy, rather than coproducing more practical front line services.

So far the Action Learning Set has been run as an internal group for the council. However, we are open to shared learning across a range of partners and organisations. So if you are interested in attending a future session then please contact me, Nathan Pierce, at npierce@lambeth.gov.uk.