Lambeth hosting next co-production practitioner forum

June 8, 2012

Lambeth is set to host the next London Co-production Practitioners Forum on the 19th June, 10am-12.30pm at the town hall (see booking details by clicking here).

The practitioners forum is run by the New Economics Foundation and brings together a range of individuals with expertise in doing genuine co-production to share knowledge and expertise. I attended the previous event hosted at Praxis in Bethnal Green, a  great organisation doing some really valuable work with migrants and refugees in the area. At the event we also heard about the  fantastic way that Look Ahead are mainstreaming co-production in their organisation.  It was really interesting to hear (from a service user) about the way service users are really involved in the operations and decision making process at Look Ahead. This ranged from interviewing new employees and  designing job advertisements to training staff members and developing pathways for service users to work in full time positions at the organisation.

We are really excited about hosting the next practitioners forum, the agenda is open for delegates to add items and we’ve added a couple about how Lambeth is embedding co-production across the organisation:

  • Helen Sharp commissioning manger for young peoples services will be talking about work that she is doing with nef on embedding coproduction throughout youth services using the Outcomes Based Commissioning framework
  • An interactive action-learning session on ‘The Challenges of Coproduction in the Public Sector’ . There will be facilitated discussion of interesting new coproduced projects and how they can be taken further.

It will be great to chat about the things we are up to with experts in co-production, there are plenty of organisations in Lambeth already doing co-production and we also hope to see lots of these local examples there too.

Here’s that registration link again, you can also talk to Sarah Lyall about the network via her email sarah.lyall@neweconomics.org

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The misconceptions and challenges of co-production

May 15, 2012

So  I recently promised (on twitter) a blog post on my thoughts about co-production and it’s use in the public sector to design (or re-design) public services. I’ve been involved in various activities, trying to embed co-production in the council over the last year. I am convinced that genuine co-production, when professionals really listen, design and deliver with service users and citizens, rather than to them, can and has delivered real innovation and savings.

I was reading about Governance International’s 5 step public transformation model for rolling out co-production across an organisation, which makes a lot of sense. What I particularly like about this (apart from that is a visual), is that it demonstrates there are different ways into the co-production cycle. So for example even if you aren’t designing a service from scratch (at this point in time) this doesn’t stop you from getting service users engaged in commissioning, delivering, assessing stages.

That said, applying co-production across a whole organisation has many challenges and requires a big culture shift. Through my observations (and in my opinion) these are probably the toughest challenges and misconceptions to overcome:

Stick ‘co-’ on front and we’ve done it

We in #localgov love a good buzzword and often go crazy with them, using them interchangeably, killing the meaning and then getting them banned. I am worried about this happening to co-production, just sticking a ‘co-’ on the front of an adjective in a report doesn’t mean we can say the service has been co-produced.

Consultation is not co-production

Consultation is not co-production. Drawing up a list of pre-decided options and asking residents and service users to choose the ones they prefer is still consultation. There should be no pre-decided options in genuine co-production, options and ideas are developed with service users and residents and professionals (this doesn’t however mean that you shouldn’t set parameters to work within i.e. budget, time etc).

There’s no role for the professional

Many individuals fear that co-production means they will be out of a job. But genuine co-production is impossible without professionals to guide, support and use their knowledge, experience and networks to help service users design the most effective services and outcomes. Professionals also need to define and explain the parameters for co-production: What is the budget? Is everybody involved? What are the time constraints? Etc.

Cost, time, risk

It’s very easy to say we can co-produce a service in 4 weeks. In reality genuine co-production of services can be time intensive, cost money and ultimately will require you to take risks. It is likely that the ideas you come up with may not have been done before and are very unlikely to reap huge savings straight away. This doesn’t mean that the parameters for co-producing can’t be set, but genuine co-production cannot be rushed and proper budgeting, planning and an acceptance of risk are needed to succeed.

Where are the examples?

‘We can’t co-produce until we’ve seen an example of where co-production has worked on a similar service’. This is used to argue that co-production doesn’t work, because there isn’t anywhere that it has been done in exactly the same way on the same service. But co-production of a particular service will probably look very different when done with a similar service. This is because your service users are different people. They will have very different needs and wants from your service, including very different ideas about how to get them. Just because this hasn’t been done exactly the same elsewhere, doesn’t mean it can’t or shouldn’t be done.

These are just some of the challenges and misconceptions that I think need to be overcome when embedding genuine co-production across whole organisations in the public sector. I would love to hear your thoughts on these and what can be done to overcome them?


Prototyping Public Services

December 8, 2011

What is prototyping?

Prototyping is a way of testing out ideas in practice at the early stages of the design cycle, quickly, cheaply and with others to see if there is demand and if they work.

Dyson is probably one of the most well known organisations that uses prototyping to test their products prior to market, the first Dyson vacuum cleaner went through over 5000 iterations before it hit the shelves.

Prototyping is an exploratory and ongoing process it can be used when designing new services or to test out components of services with residents and stakeholders. Most importantly prototyping is about exploration and ‘doing with people’ in order to develop innovations, inevitably some prototypes will fail but this should be seen as positive. Prototyping is about taking small risks at an early stage in order to maximise opportunities and prevent costly failure in the long term.

How can I find out more?

Nesta and various partners have developed a guide to prototyping public services which you can view here: http://www.nesta.org.uk/events/assets/features/prototyping_in_public_services

I have created a short online presentation to summarise prototyping using information from the guide which contains links to more information and videos as well as case studies here:

In partnership with Barnet Council and Nesta, Thinkpublic have developed a framework for prototyping that contains lots of tools here: http://www.nesta.org.uk/events/assets/documents/prototyping_framework

Thinkpublic has also produced a couple of short videos that explain the concept of prototyping in more detail you can watch them here: http://goo.gl/jpRIS


Co-production Exercise

November 9, 2011

At the recent Leadership Network  event (see previous post) Lambeth Council managers undertook a scenario based exercise to explore how co-production works and the differences from more traditional forms of consultation. Below are a couple of links which explain the exercise that we developed and the materials that were used. Please feel free to distribute, use and adapt the exercise if you think this would be useful for your organisation or team.

If you have any questions about how the exercise works or you want to discuss this in more detail please contact us at cooperativecouncil@lambeth.gov.uk

20111109 Co-production Exercise

20111109 Role play cards