On the 9th January Steve Broome, Directer of Research Actions and Research Centre, RSA gave a seminar on Connected Communities in Lambeth, slides form the event can be found below.
On September 18th 2012 Lambeth Council Launched its open data demonstrator tool in partnership with Boiler House Media, funded from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) at its ‘Digestibale Data’ event.
Further information on the tool can be found on the Boilerhouse Blog
A write-up of the event can be seen at The Daily Information.
The tool can can be accessed at www.lambeth-in-numbers.co.uk
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.
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?