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


Public Services by Design

May 25, 2012

This post is to update you on the Public Services by Design projects being co-delivered by residents, the Design Council and public sector partners.
As we reported in the last post, the Design Council led a group of stakeholders, being called the ‘Diagonal Dozen’, in a 2 day process that led to 96 innovative and design-led solutions suggested to be introduced in Tulse Hill and Herne Hill.
These ideas were whittled down to a final list of 8 ideas – those which are deliverable within the 30/60/90 day project timescales and those which the Diagonal Dozen most wished to champion. The projects are:

Project Description Project lead and contact
Traffic calming To pilot use of green and growing spaces within traffic calming schemes and measures Giles Gibson,
Mobile Job Bike A bicycle that offers information and support to job seekers and also provides refreshments Frances Farragher , Courtney and Jeremy Keates, ,

020 7926 2702

Soft Skills training To work job-seekers identified via the mobile job bike, amongst other sources, to develop the supporting skills needed to sustain employment Margaret Jarrett, 0208 671 3132
Local communications hub Information sharing to support use of resources in the Tulse Hill and Herne Hill Margaret Jarrett, 0208 671 3132
Space blog of under-used spaces Tied into the communications hub, this project identifies spaces which could be better used by the local community Salome Simoes, , 020 7926 2680
St Martin’s Estate Community centre Exploring issues for non-use of the community centre with young people and enabling them to use the space Sarah Coyte,, 07852916199
Community Asset Mapping Door knocking in 3 blocks to gather information about the strengths, skills and interests of people living there Yvonne Joseph, Rebecca Eligon and Dorian Gray,, 02079260030
New business start-up mentoring and incubation space Providing a space for business development in the early stages where mentoring and support is available Frances Farragher and Jeremy Keates, ,

020 7926 2702

Polytunnel food growing Set up of a polytunnel to increase food resilience in the borough and develop growing skills Fiona Law,, 07914 843619

To find out more or get involved, please contact the project leads on the email addresses provided, or by phone.
Each project lead will blog on the status of their project, and what they have learned from the process.  Look for further posts tagged Design Council Community Projects.

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?

Where next for localism and co-production event

April 4, 2012

Where next for localism and co-production- an event by Consumer Focus and Involve

“Consumer focus and Involve held an event in March 2012 that brought together a range of individuals from national government, local government, the voluntary and community sector, the social innovation field, academia and think tanks to explore some of the challenges and opportunities for localism and co-production in the coming years.

The event drew upon two pieces of research that were launched at the event Hands Up and Hands On and Pathways through Participation’ by NCVO, IVR and Involve.” ( Tim Hughes, March 15, 2012)

There is a really interesting write up of the event here the post includes a series of co-production case studies as well as a summary of the key discussions from the event, this includes some of the critical issues that prevent participation.

All well worth a read!

Community-led commissioning work with Design Council

February 29, 2012

Lambeth Council has been successful in securing support from the Design Council through its Public Sector by Design programme in relation to community led commissioning.  We are now working with the Design Council to look at innovative and design-led solutions in both Tulse Hill and Herne Hill; the areas were chosen as they presented particular challenges and opportunities.

The Design Council held a kick-off workshop which took place in early February, attended by both internal and external stakeholders to start to co-design a long list of projects.  A second workshop in late February (which I was unable to attend) generated 96 potential projects; these will be filtered down to a manageable number and considered for delivery.

The kick-off workshop was really exciting, engaging and certainly enjoyable. The focus was on using design-led approaches to look at problems and potential solutions.  As part of the process, we carried out an observation exercise to understand people’s needs by spending time with them.  For example, for our group we were given £5 to use on a service, which in our case was to buy some produce from  the local fruit and veg stall/shop. One of the other groups had £5 to spend at the bookies!  All the groups then mapped their experience, recording both ‘magic’ and ‘miserable’ moments, so customer journey mapping in effect.

The Design Council approach to observation is to ensure ‘that before you create something, you understand the people who are going to use it.  Otherwise you may end up creating something that seems like a good idea on paper, but doesn’t work for the people who are going to use it’.   So the message here is connect design thinking to projects and design techniques can help frame a problem in a different way.

Involving older people in service commissioning

February 28, 2012

The Joseph Rowntree Commission has recently produced a report on how commissioning bodies can enable older people to be at the heart of the  public service reform agenda. The report (Involving older people in service commissioning: more power to their elbow?) looks at two areas, Dorset and Salford, where structures and processes exist which encourage and facilitate the involvement of older people in local decision-making.

The report provides some useful lessons learnt on the importance of involving older people in the commissioning, not only of health and social care services, but also in areas such as prevention, community inclusion and universal services.

The report also outlines the focus group findings on:

  • how older people in these areas were involved in commissioning and service delivery;
  • what difference their involvement made;
  • the factors which lead to successful engagement; and
  • the barriers to involving older people.

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:

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:

Thinkpublic has also produced a couple of short videos that explain the concept of prototyping in more detail you can watch them here: