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The complexity of contemporary health issues requires that we all work across boundaries of community organisations, health providers and non-health disciplines. This enables us to embrace a host of behavioural, social, economic and environmental factors that affect the health of our target communities.

We recognise that, as community based organisations, we cannot do this in isolation. We do not have the competencies or capacity to research, design, develop or test services and interventions to improve population health and healthcare quality. We need to work with a wide range of organisations who undertake such activity, who are willing to listen to our experience and input, and support us in changing behaviour through research and by opening and sharing health data.

Generally, community-led VCS organisations are not established to undertake the academic rigor of researching biological, environmental and social causes of disease, including the determinants of health risk behaviours. Many do have an extensive understanding of its impact, and the potential, and frequent failure, of implementation of research findings into policy and practice.

VCS organisations have experience in the community elements of healthcare, with potential links to the quality and safety of provision, childhood health issues and supporting and improving quality of life and health issues with adults and families. This knowledge provides us with robust experiences and access to communities to influence health behaviour change. The extensive community knowledge and delivery experience of VCS organisations has enabled us to identify health and wellbeing sub divisions that have significant intersections with other causal factors.

This knowledge and experience provides us with the opportunity for collaboration within VCS organisations in this field, and participation in larger scale statutory delivery and research programmes that should recognise and acknowledge our access to the relevant communities and beneficiaries.

These relationships should be with not only commissioners, implementing policy decisions, derived from research, but also with the original researchers, enabling us to participate within, influence or even shape such research.

To influence delivery and improve the impact of our delivery we will undertake initial research into the following

  • Developing links with appropriate community based organisations and exploring how strategic partnerships can be developed with statutory partners and wider research institutes.
  • Sharing data and working openly and collaboratively
  • Exploring research and existing cross-disciplinary collaborations between health scientists and researchers related to our beneficiary communities.
  • Working collectively with VCS organisations to identify funding, engage VCS organisations in a process that better understands casual pathways and develop effective and efficient strategies for prevention of ill-health and tackling lifestyles that lead to disease
  • Identifying other potential collaborations by using social media and networks

This blog was initiated by our involvement with the buy generic xenical no prescription challenge at orlistat oral tablet no prescription discount and influenced by the content and thinking of orlistat generic from Cardiff University, Biomedical and life sciences department, population health aspirations.

While the department outlines high level academic aspirations, we explore how Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) grass roots groups that we work with could initiate, influence, implement and benefit from research activity.

We believe this could have benefits for both the academic and beneficiary communities

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This is the first of four essays that explore components in a public realm provision transformational process.

This first essay provides an outline of definition and issues within a transformational process. Subsequent essays will explore the Current and Possible public realm ecosystem, Component Two, Supply chain development (Wave Impact) within public realm funded programmes, Component Three and the link between term used within commissioning and tendering and the ‘absolute’ definition, Component Four.

We have used the term component as a title for each essay as we believe to identify transformation within public realm activity we need to identify specific ‘components’ within the current activity as well as clarifying terminology used.

A fifth, and final essay will bring together all the issues outlined in the first four, exploring how they can influence transformation within public realm services.

These essays will influence the focus and activity of RnR Organisation in the future.

Component One  – Definitions  and issues  

Public realm, public service, transformation, and the issue of palimpsest. 

Public service to public realm

The first element of this component is the terminology we use throughout this and subsequent essays outlining other components in transformation.

The primary task in a service transformation process is distinguishing the service provision, the funding source, and the describing terminology used in such a process. In projects that are part of a ‘welfare provision’ it may be obvious who is providing the funding; however, it has become more difficult to identify who is providing the service.

The creation of internal markets, private finance initiatives, academies, commissioning, tendering and contracting have created a wide variety of service provision.

The strategic development of provision is still the remit of national government, through a departmental delivery system. Some activities are the responsibility of local government, but such roles have diminished due to funding structures. Increasingly, the local authority structure is used to deliver national government policies through commissioning and contracting, as part of the ‘open and free market’.

The principle of commissioning within public expenditure increases the number of organisations involved in service and project delivery, thus widening the ‘public sector’ concept to accommodate neoliberal principles that an open and free market increases choice and maximises the ‘benefits’[remuneration] of public expenditure.

Services are delivered through commissioning and procurement processes, or by selling off services through a bidding process through a variety of ‘conduit vehicles’. Organisations or companies are still funded by public funds, but are they public services?

The ‘market’ delivered activities are still referred to as public services, irrespective of the provider or the route of any excess/profit from the activity.

To encompass the myriad of processes of delivery of services we in RnR Organisation use the term ‘public realm’ services, services whose source of finance is derived from the ‘public purse’. We use this term so that we can discuss the transformation of ‘products or services’ delivered by organisations to beneficiaries, irrespective of the organisation or process that delivers the service. The service remains within the public realm, accessible in the same way, or with some changes. It is not, however, a public service delivered by staff employed through a public body. It is delivered by a variety of organisations and companies, some of whom may be community run social enterprises, reinvesting any excess, or others where part of any ‘public’ funding is retained as excess/profit, not employed for its project function but distributed to shareholders or owners.

Acknowledging this difference is not just one of semantics but an acknowledgement of the changes in the public funding pathway. Whereas local Authorities and councils used to provide a wide range of services their role has, over a number of reforms, been modified into that of a facilitator /provider of commissions.

Transformation clarification of public service remit 

The second element explores the potential for innovative or novel transformation, given the reforms that have taken place over the past twenty years.

As if the reforms undertaken by the Thatcher and subsequent governments were not enough, the term ‘transformation’ continues to be used within an almost continuous process of restructuring services.

The current ‘transformation’ agenda therefore exists within an environment which views public services, developed and provided by national or local government departments, as a thing of the past.

Public realm funding, national government expenditure, however, continues to be spent, in silo departments, within a linear decision making process, ensuring that political strategy and values are implemented to operational programmes into the ‘market’ through a commissioning process. fig 1  

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So what exactly is being transformed? Who is leading that transformation, and what is the perceived outcome of such reforms? Given the austerity budgets since 2011 it would be simple enough to suggest that a neoliberal, free market, public expenditure reductionist agenda is in the ascendancy.

Transformation, in such a climate, and after such major reforms and the ‘selling off’ of services, would seemingly finish what is left of public sector delivered funding, if not public realm services all together.

Yet, in this potentially darkest hour for public realm services, we would contend that there is an opportunity to truly transform how National and Local government services as well as other publicly paid-for services can be delivered, thus utilising public funding and transforming the role of public bodies as enablers and facilitators

Historical context, terminology and purpose

To begin the exploration of such a transformation we need to ask three questions to address the historical context, to challenge some terminology and to identify a remit/purpose.

  1. What are public services? – a brief one paragraph explanation!! Beginning with the 1601 Poor Law, financed from property owners, the process had a geographic focus, in those days parishes – not to alleviate poverty, but to control the ‘lower orders’, and to reinforce a sense of social hierarchy. There were amendments throughout the subsequent centuries, expanded by the creation of Local Authorities and associated Acts that added responsibility for roads, water, electricity, gas and education. Their growth and subsequent decline is well documented.
  2. Who are the stakeholders? Are we customers?  Both these terms have been recently adopted and are widely used within service planning and delivery. Do individual stakeholders have different perceptions of public services, what is delivered and what, as recipients, is expected? Can a beneficiary of a service, a customer, also be a participant in delivering that service?In public realm services the answer is yes, but the majority of planning provides a distinct separation between provider and recipient. In the way the two terms are used is there a difference between stakeholder and customer? We would argue that there isn’t.

    By adopting such nebulous terminology there is a danger of developing services within restricted ‘stakeholder / customer’ categorisation, separating/compartmentalising those involved into those who deliver, and those who receive. It becomes a deficiency service model, with recipients who have defined problems that need resolving, by those with the skills to resolve. In developing such programmes within ‘silo department’ funding sources, stakeholders/customers/providers become compartmentalised into simplistic pigeonholes: problem, provider and recipient. Funding follows this formula.

    There is no scope in this model for considering how to fit ‘stakeholders/customers’ into more than one category, to consider the possibility that an individual may participate in more than one role within a service – a provider can also be a recipient, and can fit into a number of categories.

  3. More difficult in ‘welfare services’?  Given the breadth of public expenditure it may be more difficult within ‘welfare’ provision to identify role(s) and remit(s). While infrastructure projects, roads, water etc. are easy to define within measurable outcomes, delivery of welfare services, personal development, care, etc., can be more subjective. Services are developed to ameliorate identified issues and problems – services designed within a deficiency model.Compartmentalisation of problems leads to subjective deficiency definitions, and thus provides project titles such as ‘Troubled Families’, ‘People with Multiple and Complex Needs’, ‘Disaffected communities’ etc. These are projects developed within a deficiency/‘medical model’, delivered by staff frequently recruited from a specific social class, potentially delivering a “we know best” programme.

Dichotomy in the development and delivery process

The deficiency model delivery and the development of stakeholder/customer involvement create a dichotomy in the development and delivery process. Providers input and views can outweigh those of the recipient, thus reducing the impact of stakeholder involvement making any co-design and production activity meaningless.

Community assets

Later components in this series will explore the role, not of distinguishing between recipient or providers but rather of recognising and developing individuals as ‘assets’ within communities, and incorporating such practice, and ultimately resources, in developing a neighbourhood (community) support process and provision.

Transformation – an issue of palimpsest1?

The last element acknowledges that no transformation of public services takes place on a blank canvas, but on an existing blue print that is drawn and re-drawn over the years. Current service provision bears the marks of historical development and delivery, previous processes and incarnations, the potential, perceivable and the unachieved, impossible to remove or wipe clean.

Public sector reform/transformation is undertaken within the data it gathers from the silos, data from its services, related to problems it has identified, and solutions it wishes to impose. It is influenced by fiscal constraints of public funding – such activity is promoted as reform and restructuring which, in itself, is potentially disproportionally influenced by those employed to deliver the process, protecting their status and income.

Terms such as ‘co-design’ or ‘co-production’ are used to augment ‘stakeholder’ involvement in service development – service development that remains fiscally restricted, silo data-driven and output orientated.

True reform

We believe that true reform, even within fiscal restrictions, is possible, if driven by decision making using a wider range of processes and data. Such reform or transformation has to be built on previous and current activities, but the ‘components’ outlined in this series of essays forming the core of a re-thinking, the transformation of provision.

We believe that participants in such delivery should be from as wide a range as possible and include the process of accumulating as much data and ‘skilled assets’ as possible, in order to redraw any current ‘blueprint’ of how public realm expenditure impacts on individuals, not only at a service delivery level but also at a neighbourhood and community level.

Palimpsest noun [ C ] –  /ˈpæl.ɪm.sest/ /ˈpæl.ɪm.sest/

​A very old text or document in which writing has been removed and covered or replaced by new writing – something such as a work of art that has many levels of meaning, types of style, etc. that build on each other;

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Participants from Brum City Drive 2017 Hack, held at Impact Hub Birmingham 
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Hackathons, or to use the more well-known abbreviation, ‘Hacks’, are a fairly new concept to most people in the UK third sector. Originating in the software development industry, hacks are events where people from different backgrounds and sectors choose to get together with others, or are encouraged to come together, to work intensively in teams to develop solutions to problems. One goal has been to make useful software which has the possibility of being commercialised.

  1. Why have a hack?

“Starting in the mid to late 2000s, hackathons became significantly more widespread, and began to be increasingly viewed by companies and venture capitalists as a way to quickly develop new software technologies, and to locate new areas for innovation and funding … Hackathons aimed at improvements to city local services are increasing, with one of the London Councils (Hackney) creating a number of successful local solutions on a 2 Day Hackney-thon. There have also been a number of hackathons devoted to improving education…” – from order orlistat overnight, Wikipedia

  1. Our involvement in hacks

RnR Organisation has been participating as subject matter experts in hacks and similar exploratory events like sprints, unconferences and data dives for the past several years, in Birmingham and elsewhere in the UK. We find that working on challenging issues in teams with a combination of people with technical skills, people who are knowledgeable about the issue, researchers etc, brings a different and new dynamic to approaching and identifying possible solutions to the kind of social issues with which we in the sector are familiar. You can read more about the kind of events in which we’ve taken part in this area in generic 60mg orlistat online

  1. Differences between hacks and more traditional events

The main differences between hacks and other issue-based events are its length, the opportunity to meet other participants before the main event, lack of agenda, lack of keynotes, lack of fixed mealtimes, giving/getting feedback.

Unlike more traditional conferences and similar events, Hacks are usually held over 24-48 hours, sometimes even going on for a week, and they assume active participation by all attendees. The main event is often preceded by a get together where potential attendees spend a few hours meeting each other with a view to finding out what knowledge, skills and interests they each have which could contribute to a diverse team at a hack.

At the hack itself there are no keynote speakers; instead, people ‘pitch’ the issue they want to work on and then other attendees decide, having heard the pitches, which of those teams they want to join. There are no fixed meal breaks so the creative flow isn’t interrupted – instead, refreshments are made available during the hack so people can take breaks when they feel the need. However, opportunities are provided during the event, not just at the end, for teams to check-in/feedback to the whole event,  sometimes verbally, sometimes using graphics, and respond to questions and comments on their progress.

  1. Things to bring to a hack

  • Wifi-enabled devices (laptops, tablets, smartphones) as well as extension cables and memory sticks
  • Your experience
  • An open mind
  • Design thinking and other information research skills
  • Creativity

 

  1. Participating remotely

Through the use of social media and other collaborative technology, you can be part of a hack even if you’re not physically in the room. Most hacks have a hashtag e.g. #HackMentalHealth, and people elsewhere in the world can join in the event remotely, using the hashtag to ask questions, make comments, share documents etc as well as responding to people tweeting from the hack.

  1. Typical hack schedule

  • Night before hack (or a few days before): Pre-meeting of potential participants
  • Start of event: Participants arrive at venue and register, introductions, pitches, teams form, hacking begins
  • Mid-event: Check-in/Feedback session
  • End of event: Teams present/demonstrate their work/findings

 

  1. After the hack

There may be follow-up events, more hacks and opportunities for hack participants to keep working on the issues. Many people go to hacks on a regular basis, sharing their skills and knowledge with others.

  1. Want to get involved?

Over the next 12 months we’re planning to do more hacks in the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector, particularly with smaller organisations in the West Midlands.

We’re collating a list of interested parties – get in touch with us if you’d like to be part of one, whether you’re in the sector as a chief officer/worker/volunteer/trustee, or in other sectors as a developer, designer, data analyst, researcher, subject expert, entrepreneur, academic or student and we’ll keep you up to date with developments.

All events will be announced via our monthly newsletter orlistat online without prescription.

 

More reading and a podcast

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Fig 1 is our first design of such a model. We will, in the coming months, develop this design and model. This will be done through discussion with commissioners and community activists to enable a robust, fundable and sustainable model to be designed that recognises the importance of all participants within the process.

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Fig 1 ASSET BASED COMMUNITY HEALTH OPERATIONAL MODEL – 1ST DRAFT

The development of this process is only part of our thinking.

For this model to be implemented systemically, ensuring success and sustainability, we would argue that there is a need for true transformation of the public realm funding processes, to review its attitude and opinion of VCSE / community groups, and their role in service provision.

Figs 2-4 outline our thinking about changes to the public realm funding decision making process.

We promote the use of data from wider sources than those currently used. We outline an asset based approach that should be adopted to support services, not because utilising community assets is a cheaper option in time of public realm budget cuts, but because community assets are an essential and skilful resource than can optimise the impact of projects.

In the coming months we will expand on these designs exploring current process, Fig 2 Traditional (Established) Model (yellow section on left), and the ‘market’ development of a supply chain. This diagram also explores the Product Development Process, (brown section on right), which is supposedly assimilated into the supply chain process.

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Fig 2 TRADITIONAL (ESTABLISHED) MODEL, PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT PROCESS

Fig 3 Current Ecosystem, Design Process, Wider Data Proposal explores what impact the term ‘transformation’ has had on the ecosystem, with the yellow and blue sections identifying a “delivery disconnect” in the sustainability of income from any ‘product’ developed within the supply chain.

This figure also provides an outline of the ‘Design Process’(grey section), as well as outlining a Wider Data Proposal (green section).

These last two sections form part of ‘absolute’ processes, processes that, together with the Product Development Process, are external to the system but should be incorporated within it, if true transformation is to take place.

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Fig 3 CURRENT ECOSYSTEM, DESIGN PROCESS, WIDER DATA PROPOSAL

The last sheet, Fig 4, incorporates elements of our previous work, order orlistat online (green section), together with structures developed by how to order orlistat with whom we are working to develop transformational proposals. Poc Zero’s Ring Of Confidence, is augmented by Boxes Of Support (orange section). The final section Developing The Dojos (purple), begins the exploration of how community organisations can be engaged as ‘peers’ within the delivery and process, designed or developed through public realm funding.

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Fig 4 RING OF CONFIDENCE, BOXES OF SUPPORT, THREE FIELD ACTIVITY

The Operational Model, Fig 1, and subsequent transformational designs, Figs 2-4, place asset engagement and development at the core of the activity.

We believe that communities, assets, volunteers, whatever label is used, should not be seen as an aid to public realm funding cuts.

Communities and individuals, irrespective of their issues, can be assets to a programme but, generally, projects/programmes are developed within a deficiency model, activities to rectify deficiencies.

We at RnR put communities at the core of activities and model how both public organisations, Fig 1 and public realm funding can be transformed to accommodate their resources and assets, Figs 2-4.

This is what we believe to be true transformation.

If you are interested in discussing our designs or activities, please contact us to discuss how we can work together for you to achieve your outcomes and demonstrate your impact.

 

Pauline Roche

Ted Ryan

September 2016 

All images © copyright RnR Organisation except for Ring of Confidence © copyright Poc Zero

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This post is Part One of two posts:

Part One looks at some data on online and digital skills in the UK population as a whole

and

Part Two will look specifically, at 2 regions of England (West Midlands and East Midlands) where we are working with some people in smaller charities and some people in the tech communities.

PART ONE

We at RnR Organisation are working to increase and improve basic digital skills and use of technology in smaller charities in order for them to achieve their aims more effectively so the second post will look at digital skills in UK SMEs and charities, including in the West Midlands and East Midlands.

Basic Digital Skills

Basic digital skills are defined as:

1.      Managing information

2.      Communicating

3.      Transacting

4.      Creating

5.      Problem solving

Basic Digital Skills and Basic Online Skills

Having skills 1-4 means a person has Basic Online Skills, while having 1-5 means a person has Basic Digital Skills.

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Classification of digital tasks and digital skills

“77% of the UK adult population [40.5m people] have Basic Digital Skills with 81% having the Basic Online Skills level…[so]…23%, or an estimated 12.6 million adults in the UK…don’t have the required level of Basic Digital Skills…”

Regional differences

“Greater London (84%), Scotland (81%), the South East and South West (both 81%) register the highest Basic Digital Skills levels, but Wales –where internet access is lowest –displays the lowest levels (62%)”. In the West Midlands the Basic Digital Skills level is second lowest in the UK at 63%, and this means it is at the lowest level in the nine regions of England.

Basic Online Skills level in the West Midlands is the lowest in the UK at 68%. By comparison, levels in the East Midlands are higher at 75% for Basic Digital Skills and 80% for Basic Online Skills. This means that approximately 1.5m people aged 15+ in the West Midlands lack Basic Online Skills and 1.75m lack Basic Digital Skills. In the East Midlands the figures are 0.75m and 0.95m respectively.

Internet access

Internet access is a factor which influences levels of digital skills. “In general [Northern Ireland is an exception], the areas with the highest internet access (by any means) also show the highest levels of Basic Digital Skills.” 81% of people in the West Midlands and 85% in the East Midlands have internet access

UK maps showing lack of internet access and lack of digital skills
UK maps showing lack of internet access and lack of digital skills

 

 

 

All quotes, data and illustrations taken from: Basic Digital Skills UK report 2015: Report prepared by Ipsos MORI for Go ON UK, in association with Lloyds Banking Group

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Tech companies and Corporate social responsibility

All people in tech companies want to improve the lives of their stakeholders, and this can include helping organisations in the charitable or voluntary and community sector (VCS) low or pro bono, an activity usually known in business as Corporate social responsibility (CSR) or Corporate responsibility (CR).

This can include giving the VCS organisation support to use technology better, and more, possibly to automate some of the more repetitive and time-consuming processes in the organisation.

It might also mean joining the Board of a VCS organisation as an unpaid Trustee or Director in order to assist with good governance.

We want to support tech companies and VCS organisations in the Midlands to grow and develop those kind of relationships. We can see there are mutual benefits to be had.

Benefits for the tech companies

Benefits for the tech company can include that the company can offer development opportunities to their staff to increase their employability and retain their talent. They can learn more about and engage better with their local area and community. They can develop new products and services, or improve existing ones. They can gain satisfaction from helping and reinvesting some of their profits and resources in the local community.

Individual staff members can get satisfaction from helping a VCS organisation which helps people in their local area and community.

Benefits for the VCS Organisation

Benefits for the staff of the VCS organisation can include that they can improve their technical and digital skills, thus increasing their employability.

The organisation can learn about opportunities to change some of its processes, possibly freeing up valuable time to spend it with users of their services. They can offer opportunities to local tech companies who want to fulfil their CSR.

How we can help 

We are members of the collaborative workspace and community of changemakers xenical rx cheap and we also do project work around open data at the incubation centre of the Birmingham tech community buying orlistat online We have built excellent relationships with colleagues and companies based in each of these spaces.

This, and our many years of senior level experience and networks in the wider voluntary and public sectors, and our wide social media networks, makes us ideally placed to bring people from both the voluntary sector and tech companies together under the tech for good banner or, as we call it, tech for impact.

Tech for good meetups and other initiatives

In 2015 we co-founded buy orlistat with no prescription (@Net2Midlands), a local branch of the global cheapest online indian pharmacy for orlistat or generic network of tech for good groups. We run regular Net Squared Midlands sessions at Impact Hub Birmingham. Every month or so we run a session to bring tech companies and not-for-profits together to address topics of mutual interest e.g. agile processes, using video better.

We also co-founded the unconference for voluntary sector infrastructure organisations buy orlistat online without a prescription, hosted annually since 2013 at Innovation Birmingham. We work on a number of other related initiatives including the UK orlistat (xenical) overnight delivery and the generic orlistat

Want to know more?

We are taking these ideas further. If you’re from a tech company or a VCS organisation, or a strategic body which supports these organisations, and this post has sparked your interest, please get in touch with us to find out more and to start a conversation.

Thanks to Joel Blake OBE, Social Innovation Consultant, for some of his expert insights in this field

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A strange trinity of influence and, while the first two have something in common, they have little to do with the Voluntary Sector. Sometimes, while accumulating information from a variety of sources, something happens. This was one such time for me – a quotation, a television programme and a speech. Suddenly the answers to a conundrum, issues of transformation within the voluntary sector, became slightly clearer

The Quotation

“If I asked people what they wanted, they would have said they wanted faster horses”  – a statement attributed to Henry Ford. The statement could be seen as a total disregard for customer feedback, or it could be an expression of his own self belief, a self belief that transformed car production which may have been his ‘transformational’ gift to market forces.

The Model T is acknowledged as the motor car that transformed the way people perceived motor cars, and perhaps the motor industry, how they travelled and how they perceived the new mode of transport. But was it the car that was revolutionary, or was it the production of the vehicle that was transformational?

Ford made cars cheaper due to his assembly line and efficient fabrication, instead of the then standard hand-crafted vehicles. This made cars affordable, vehicles functional and easy to maintain and, thereby, not just the preserve of the rich or eccentric but affordable by the middle classes.

But, can the development and improving of the assembly line and fabrication process be seen as THE ‘transformational’ act within the development of the motor car? Of course it can’t!

It was important, but other aspects of transport infrastructure – roads, petrol stations, mechanics, etc. – needed to be developed, in parallel with vehicle design and production, for cars to be a reliable and efficient form of transport.

Roads (1) are essential for cars. They need to be flatter and smoother than the ‘tracks’ required for horses, faster or otherwise. John McAdam’s aggregate solution was robust for horse drawn vehicles, not so for people who were becoming more mobile through mechanical devices – cars and bicycles. People started advocating for improved roads through activities such as the ‘Good Road Movement’ in America.

Modern Tarmac (2), a 1901 patent by Edgar Hooley (a Welshman born in Swansea), who added tar to the aggregate, flattened the surface with steamrollers, providing a smooth surface on which to drive or ride. Modern roads, and therefore more comfortable rides, were born.

Access to petrol is another essential component for ‘extensive’ travel in motor cars. Gasoline was originally sold by pharmacies (3). The pharmacy in Wiesloch, Germany, was used to refuel Betha Benz in 1888, and, by the early years of the 20th Century, there was an increase demand for fuel, due to increased car ownership influenced by Henry Ford’s transformations.

The world’s first purpose-built gas station was constructed in St. Louis, Missouri, followed by ‘stations’ in Seattle, Washington and Altoona, Pennsylvania. Early on, they were known to motorists as “filling stations”, and were usually attached to hardware shops. The first bespoke station, opened in 1913 in Pittsburgh, was still open in 2013 as Walter’s Automotive Shop. Not only had filling stations arrived but so also had mechanics.

The Television Programme

In 2007, during an episode of Top Gear (4), Jeremy Clarkson and James May studied a number of early car designs, exploring the root of the modern car design: 3 pedals, one gear stick, a hand brake and an ignition key.

While having an ‘interesting’ time driving classic cars, including the Model T Ford (which wasn’t that easy to drive) and the De Dion-Bouton (Model Q), they concluded that the Cadillac Type 53 (5) was the first car to use the same control layout as modern automobiles. They finished the item by pointing out that the Herbert Austin took that design and put it in the Austin 7 (6) – this became the first mass-market car to be fitted with the layout.

The Cadillac Type 53 remained in production for one year only, 1916. The Austin 7, produced from 1922, created an affordable car for the British public, and is said to have had the same effect on that market as the Model T had in America. Austin licensed the design and it was copied, and manufactured, all over the world – in Germany by BMW, the Dixi, their first car; in France as the Rosengarts; in America, until 1934, as the American Austins, and in Japan, although not under licence, Nissan based the design for their first cars on the Austin 7.

While production of the Austin 7, and other cars grew, so did road building, the proliferation of ‘filling stations’ and the rise of the mechanic. These were individual actions of transformation that collectively transformed the automotive industry, the way we travel and perceive travel on a worldwide basis.

The Speech

So what has all this got to do with voluntary sector innovation and transformation?

For that I turn to Robert Kennedy’s speech at the University of Kansas, March 18, 1968 (7). As part of his campaign for the presidency, he talked of a deep malaise of spirit in America, of Native Americans [so-called ‘Indians’] “living on their bare and meagre reservations, with no jobs, with an unemployment rate of 80 percent” and people living in “black ghetto, listening to ever greater promises of equality and of justice, as they sit in the same decaying schools and huddled in the same filthy rooms”

He believed that “the unselfish spirit that exists in the United States of America” meant that things can be better.

Then came the part that made me sit up, the part that challenges some current views, that VCS organisations, and the sector in general, needs to be transformed, become innovative and more business like

Kennedy stated that “…even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction – purpose and dignity – that afflicts us all. Too much and for too long, we seem to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things.

Our Gross National Product, now, is over $800 billion dollars a year, but that Gross National Product – if we judge the United States of America by that – that Gross National Product counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage.

It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for the people who break them.

It counts the destruction of the redwood and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl.

It counts napalm and counts nuclear warheads and armoured cars for the police to fight the riots in our cities.

It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.

Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.

It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.

It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans”.

The Sector

Robert Kennedy was talking about different issues, different measurements.

We cannot value the impact of the VCS on our GDP in the same way as manufacturers. We cannot believe that innovation just happens in service delivery of VCS organisations. We cannot compare our care processes, the looking after of the most vulnerable people, our education system and schools, our green and open spaces to a production line. Yet we do. We are currently exploring how VCS activity becomes more business-like, responding to a ‘new market’, being innovative and borrowing from ‘social sources’ to initiate projects.

The transformation of the voluntary sector is currently being discussed within the same economic rules in which Ford and Austin, McAdam and Hooley operated. We cannot impose or replicate the actions that transformed the economic environment they operated in. They were not alone in their transformation, and undertook development with an awareness of potential impact. They understood their market – they knew the potential for investment and return on that investment.

My questions are:

How do we measure our return on investment, how many people we care for in a day, how many we wash, dress, feed, teach, enable to play, plant flowers etc.?

Do we spend time developing programmes that insist on innovative ways of counting and delivering outputs, or do we spend time exploring other ways of measuring involvement in the delivery and the impact of activity?

 

References

1 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_road_transport

2 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tarmac

3  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Filling_station#History

4 Series 10 Episode 8 2nd December 2007

5 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cadillac_Type_53

6 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Austin_7

7 http://images2.americanprogress.org/campus/email/RobertFKennedyUniversityofKansas.pdf

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TWEAKING SOME PRACTICES: IT’S NOT ALL OR NOTHING

Having discussed wider and strategic issues in the previous two articles in this series we thought it necessary in this article to provide some practical guidance for organisations about how to incorporate such activities into their operational activities. This is a process of making modifications and not necessarily making wholesale changes within your organisations or practice.

All organisations use some form of IT and therefore have an existing digital footprint. Organisations use technology to monitor activity and therefore have access to specific and bespoke data.

Websites are commonplace for most organisations and provide an excellent shop window for services and activities but do we make the best use of them, including to meet and collaborate with others?

As a sector we are now hearing a great deal about digital transformation – there are individuals and organisations that would advise us as to how to maximise our digital presence and data footprint but, unless organisations understand and own their own journey, they will not get the full benefit of the activity. This article therefore provides some guidance as to how to review your activity

We therefore pose a number of questions and observations for you/your organisation:

DO YOU KNOW WHAT DATA YOU KEEP?

Do you believe that you could improve how you manage your digital footprint?

Have you:
• Discussed with your board how technology might help with your work?
• Identified staff processes and progress?
• Identified any time constraints?

DIGITAL FOOTPRINT

Does your digital footprint tell your story, celebrate your successes, and promote the numbers (people, events, networks, outcomes) you achieve, the issues you address, the impact you make?
How do you market or promote your organisation?
Leaflets, networking, blog, social media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, website.

DIGITAL BY DESIGN

• What data do you keep about your activities, your users, your funding sources, other?
• How do you present your data? In annual reports, in funding applications, in other publications?

EXPLORING YOUR DIGITAL PRESENCE

We have divided an organisational digital presence into two distinct categories: fixed and fluid. Fixed digital includes websites and other IT processes. While the organisation has input into such activity, such resources can be inflexible, often purchased and maintained externally, used to promote and record organisational activity.

Web presence (fixed): What does it say about you, what information do you share, who is/are your target audience(s)? Develop a digital presence that tells your story, using narrative and data to represent impact and outcomes that are being achieved, and not just the information that represents how you fulfil contract obligations. What does your website say about your organisation?

Social Media (fluid/flexible): Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp. What does your use of social media say about your organisation? With social media, often controlled and administered in-house, you have more flexibility over your digital presence and can use this media to portray more intimate insights into the organisation.
Who manages your Facebook page, LinkedIn organisation page, Twitter account, website content? You, your staff and board can decide what stories get told using as many or as few of these platforms as make sense for your organisation – go where your users are.
Do you measure the impact of your marketing? Blogpost reads, e-bulletin circulation, Facebook followers, leaflet distribution, LinkedIn connections, Twitter followers and re-tweets, website use – create a baseline using analytics and monitor changes so you can stay in the loop.
You can interact with peers in this area. Peer to peer learning with other non-profits about using technology to achieve outcomes.

EVENTS

BarCamp Non Profits unconference brings together people from tech and digital with people from non-profits (charity, academic, government, arts and culture, etc) to exchange ideas and learning: orlistat sale no prescription

Net Squared Midlands is a tech for good group, with regular free events for people interested in using web or mobile technology for social good: orlistat express online

NFP tweetup – informal evenings of thought-provoking sessions, sharing and discussion focused on how not-for-profit organisations can make the best use digital media and technology: buy orlistat without a prescription

VCSSCamp is an unconference for people from VCS local infrastructure organisations to meet and talk about the ways they use digital tools and technology in their work: order generic orlistat online no prescription

MANAGING DATA

Data management tools (some are open source) allow you to have more control over data about your organisation, your area and your issues. Your organisation could make use of free online tools such as Open Street Map (maps and mapping tools), Tableau Public (data visualisation tools), Trello (project management tool), Wikimedia (graphics), Wikipedia (encyclopaedia).

This is a process of making modifications and not necessarily making wholesale changes within your organisations or practice.

TIMELINE AND ACTIVITY

Engaging in the above activity may look like a great deal of commitment – it isn’t. We would estimate a maximum commitment of 20-30 minutes per day. Make it a part of your weekly timetable and activities and develop an organisational ‘cultural’ commitment to digital activity.

It is more about doing things differently, adjusting how you work, making more efficient use of IT and digital

WHAT NEXT?

If you or your organisation wants some strategic help to take any of these ideas forward, please contact us for a discussion about how we might work together.

OTHER ARTICLES IN SERIES:

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A confusing title for an equally confusing time. We are told we have to behave more ‘market like’, be innovative and develop new products.

But, can publicly funded services, a publicly funded, openly tendered and procured service exist within a true ‘market economy’ (private sector) market?

As a producer, in a ‘market economy’, I would know the size of the market I operate in. I would know my market share, its sustainability and its growth potential.

I would know my customer demographic, have 5 year forecast predictions and have indications of actions to fulfil those potentials.

Any new product (innovation) that I wished to introduce into ‘the market’ would be developed and based on a thorough understanding of the above issues.

I would be able to cost development and retooling , potential borrowing requirements and repayments, capitalize the expenditure over a given period, borrow against projected sales and growth and then decide if I progress or not.

Having developed the initial product, from my own resources, and borrowed to get the product to market I would know which demographic it was targeted at, potential sales and impact on the whole market and my other products within the target market. I would know what share of the market my new product should achieve, and if that would have an impact on current products, or gain me larger market share overall i.e. I might lose 2% of market share from my current products but the new product would obtain 5% of market share, so my overall gain would be 3%.

While I accept that there is a finite amount of money in any given economy, at any given time, in this scenario I believe I could persuade people to change their buying habits and buy my new product.

All these judgements are based within an open ‘economic market’ – knowing that people want to buy my product, persuading people to buy a new product, made by me.

I am aware of how much money exists within my market and what I have to do to impact on my growth.

Product innovated, developed, produced, marketed, sold…

In the public sector funded service provision we are told we are to exist within a market and develop these skills. We are encouraged to innovate and develop new products to meet the need of tenders and procurement activity which is the way we access the funding. The process is developed, implemented and run by commissioners who receive an allocation of funding to ‘procure’ services and, in turn, develop tenders for applicants.

It is therefore a market restricted by funding, funding that can fluctuate within the public finance environment.

It is data driven, public sector data driving delivery targets, informing commissioning targets and outcomes. Data drives silos (specific funding for specific issues), and funding it attached to silos, and cannot (or very rarely can) be transferred between silos.

It is therefore outcome-orientated and very restricted. We have to deliver the expected outcome (data driven) within public sector (and silo) finance restrictions.

This is not a market.

Into an outcome-orientated market (environment), we are expected to deliver given outcomes, often in an expected manner. We cannot innovate, as that may not fit the commissioning brief. We cannot expand our market or products, through innovation, as there is a finite capacity to the finance in the silo for which we may be tendering, and the tender is for delivery, not development.

I cannot borrow to develop new products as I am not guaranteed a place in the market – I can neither argue nor prove my case.

Long term capitalisation of any investment is also restricted by the length of the contract, usually three years but it can be shorter, and any IT development to improve productivity cannot be included in a tender application.

Transformation argues we need, as a sector, to change our behaviour and practice within our ‘markets’.

While there may be skills and practices we can learn from the open market, we are having to learn them within the confines of our eco system, what I would call, based on the foregoing, a ‘non market’.