Digital Leaders week 2018: Running iSandwell Camp

Digital Leaders Week is a national celebration of opportunities, challenges and support for the digital transformation of Britain’s businesses, public services and society. Listing over 120 events (77% outside London) with 10,000 free places RnR was happy to help share, inspire, inform and build the UK’s Digital Confidence. 

We were delighted to be in Sandwell in June during 2018 national Digital Leaders week to facilitate the second iSandwell Camp, this one focussing on Digital Champions.

With over 30 participants from the public and voluntary sectors we looked at how we use our digital skills at work and at home, the need for digital in the region, where we get our digital skills and information from and perception of the issues in Sandwell in regards to digital exclusion.

We then set the scene to where we are currently are with the Sandwell Digital Champions network, seeing the iSandwell Camp event as a chance to put the brakes on and engage with the community to ensure we are on point, welcoming feedback on the existing role description.

Nathan Coyle from New Union liveblogged the event for iSandwell during the day.

 

 

Component Two: The Ecosystem (Current and Possible)

Introduction

Having identified issues and terminology in the first component (Component One) the next two components aim to both deconstruct structures that are related to those issues, as well as exploring structures that ‘traverse’ public realm structures, which may be funded by public realm finances but are often seen as an addition to public realm processes of delivery and are therefore not viewed as equal.

Transformation is therefore imposed upon these ‘traversing’ structures, transformation that may not necessarily benefit such structures but is either for the benefit of, or the fiscal restrictions within, the public realm.

The ‘traversing structures’ are seen as part of a supply chain to public realm services, not as integral components but additions and ‘bolt on’ services.

The first part of this paper therefore explores what we have called the Current Process, linear development. Fig 1 provides a visual interpretation of current decision-making process, a basic outline as to how service decisions are made. Fig 1i explores a visualisation of engaging the ‘traversing’ organisations, predominantly voluntary sector organisations and community groups as part of what is can be called a supply chain.

The second part begins to explore the possibilities of a different view, a view that widens the character of voluntary and community organisations, expanding on the principle of placing individuals, community activists (assets) at the core of community and potential service provision development.

It does this by exploring different, yet complementary, views of community role and engagement within service provision.

Community Development and Asset Based Community Development (ABCD), can operate within and separate from public realm provision. Some proponents of ABCD believe it should operate separately from statutory deficit / deficiency model provision, focusing on neighbourhood / community need. The fundamental differences are outlined through Dan Duncan’s diagram, fig 3, and further references are provided.

RnR Organisation’s Three Field Development, fig 4, and Poc Zero’s Ring of Confidence, fig 5, explore constructs of a possible ecosystem, developed in Birmingham, both models/initiatives designed to aid asset-based involvement in service provision. We appreciate that these initiatives are transferable to other areas, as well as acknowledging that other organisations may have similar processes.

PART ONE The Current, Linear, Process

The Current Process, referred to as the Linear Process. (Fig 1) provides a visualisation of the issues expressed in Component one.

The visualisation identifies the process as linear in format, fiscally restricted and output driven. The process is initiated through political policy which, in turn is turned into strategic policy, strategic development and finally operational implementation, all developed within fiscal constraints, public funding.

Service delivery has changed over the past 15-20 years from an in-house, or grants to external organisation delivery, to that of services delivered by public and non-public sector organisations being  undertaken through a process of written tenders and commissioned work. Tender specifications and commissioned activity is driven by data – this data identifies the need, it is predominantly collated within public realm data sets and is, therefore, often restricted data and silo focused. The data is retained in specific departments and not necessarily shared amongst, or even known by, other departments.

Such data sets are seldom shared externally, outside the public realm organisation, or published in a format that encourages sharing or enables any other party to develop interpretative models that may produce an ‘innovative’ solution to an issue. While the publishing of personal data would not be acceptable, anonymised data published under an open license could widen partnership and engagement of other parties.

 

Fig 1 Current Model, Linear Process

Not only is commissioning undertaken within restricted data boundaries, it is also fiscally restricted, primarily, but not solely, through political decisions at a national level.  Policy and process, established by national government and implemented at a local level, ascertains the amount of money available to fund services identified through the data.

The commissioning and tendering process is aimed at ‘opening’ or ‘creating’ a market. The term ‘purchaser’  is used to describe functions within a commissioning and tendering process, attracting ‘products’ or services through tender applications, assessed against fiscal constraints and output expectations.

While this process purports to encourage product development and innovation and, to this end, it may use these terms within any tendering of commissioning documentation, products that fall outside, or do not clearly comply with outputs outlined within the specification will not be commissioned. New products/processes, developed and proven through additional funding (external funding), may be assimilated into the process.

However, because of fiscal and output constraints, the restricted data, and resultant tender definition of product ensures the linear process influences and impacts, not only public realm structures and services, but also the interaction between public realm and other differently funded organisations.

Reforms within the public realm to accommodate political and fiscally ‘encouraged’ changes are titled ‘transformation’.

Because this ‘transformation’ is delivered within the linear process through commissioning and tendering, it has an impact on how the public realm interacts with the funded supply chain – organisations that are funded to deliver services.

Transformation ‘encouraged’ in the public realm is cascaded to voluntary and community organisation. These have been developed to resolve local/neighbourhood issues, and are funded to undertake this activity. This happened historically through grant processes but they now find themselves having to compete in a tendering and commissioning process.

The public realm linear process develops and delivers its internal transformation, within its own palimpsest. Fiscal restrictions encourage a (Fig 1i) ‘we deliver what we can afford’ mentality, and subsequent tendering and commissioning framework.  Groups, organisations or companies, used to one set of rules, have to adjust to tendering against these measurements i.e. not only the change from grant funding to commissioning but the, sometimes, misinterpretation of tendering guidelines and legislation, large contracts and the widening number of applicants for commissioned activities due to shrinking public and charitable funding)

  

 Fig 1i Current Model, Linear Process with proposed transformation agenda

While this process may be adequate for supply of services to the public realm (although there is a wider debate about public realm staff skills in writing appropriate tenders) such a process has limited achievement in developing new or ‘innovative products’ into a market where the funder, public realm commissioners, decide the finance available, the market provision, the output/numbers to be delivered and the cost of delivery.

The current process does not comply with any product development principles – it is not a market, as the funders retain complete control over the fiscal structure, quantity, circulation and therefore project/product delivery. Public realm expenditure, within the current process ‘open market’ principle, has an enormous impact, on other sectors of economic activity. This impact is neither incorporated within the design of services nor managed strategically to support any outcome / output process.

This is explored in greater depth in wave impact (Component Three)

While it is called a market, it is not. New providers, innovative solutions, have little chance of influencing commissioning if they do not fulfil the criteria of the tender specification which, in itself, is designed through restricted data, institutionally based and biased.

Additional community engagement is undertaken in the linear process through a variety of ‘customer’/patient, community liaison [consultation] activities. The majority of these practices, Housing Liaison Boards, Stakeholder experience consultations, ‘Expert by Experience’ ‘Expert Patient’ activity, Ward Committees etc. are professional-led consultation processes, following an organisational structure or ‘medical’ model method of engagement. Each of these processes treats the community participant as a recipient of services only, with no cognisance given to any of their skills in their ‘real life’ beyond the consultation process.

The terms co-design/co-production are frequently used to describe wider participation in the development of services but the terms of engagement are strictly within the parameters of the organisation/funders.

The ‘open market’ principle within the linear process and transformation of services entails the development of a supply chain, partnership or community development within the commissioning and tendering process. Partnership engagement and community development is often couched as a consultation process and may not lead to commissioned work.

This process takes place within the deficiency model – it does not acknowledge the skills within a community or target group that may aid some or all of its commissioned objectives and outputs. Instead, ‘capacity building programmes’ are developed and provided in order to ‘ensure’ that VCSE organisations or community groups develop skills to be ‘efficient’ in delivering within the linear process, if they are successful within the tendering process.  

PART TWO – Community Engagement – principles and models

Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD), people and communities

This section identifies different hypothesis and models to that of the Linear Process i.e. for community engagement to be effective and efficient, it must hold the view that ‘everyone is an asset’.

Individuals, and therefore communities, are the core of public realm funded activities. The majority of ‘social welfare’ provision perceive such individuals, through linear process restricted data, as having needs that need resolving i.e. the ‘deficiency model’.

The social welfare element of public sector expenditure, health, care (and education) tend to view, and therefore plan, services for ‘people and communities’ (those with ‘needs’), as recipients or beneficiaries of services. Services are planned within a deficiency  model, identifying ‘problems’ to be resolved, services to be provided and skills for the participant/recipient to learn or acquire. Problems and issues are identified through closed data analysis of restricted data, with services provided for individuals by ‘professionals’

An engagement/development ‘asset based’ approach to communities, target groups etc., could have a much greater impact through the acknowledgement of the skills and experiences of participants. Identifying individual and organisational learning and training needs, engaging in decision making, utilising locally-sourced data and intelligence, and accommodating these resources in a new decision-making process, could have a quantifiably positive impact on outputs and outcomes related to identified needs.

An ‘asset-based’ model, where communities play a more active role in the design and delivery of services from which they and others will benefit, is potentially far more productive than the linear process. It does, however, require a significant public realm paradigm shift in planning and delivering services and activities for it to have noteworthy effective on community engagement and impact. Such a model provides an opportunity for statutory services to be enriched and enhanced by acknowledging and harnessing inherent and/or latent skills within communities. It changes a deficit model of resolving perceived ‘deficiencies and difficulties’, into an asset-based model, acknowledging the role that individuals and communities collectively can play in designing, developing and delivering programmes to address mutually agreed issues. (fig 3)

As a point of clarification, the term ‘community’ is used to describe a common bond of interest, issue, culture or geography, acknowledging that such ‘communities’ are as diverse in skills and engagement as they are broad in interest and culture. They may be organised in ‘constituted groups’ (charities, incorporated voluntary organisations etc.), faith based or unincorporated groups, etc. They may wish to deliver services, to be involved in the planning or just to support people in their ‘community’.

Asset-based, as well as community development activities, tend to try and value all individuals, their skills knowledge and experience and believe they can add something to transformational activity. Conversations, listening and talking are core activities in acknowledging and utilising community ‘assets’ i.e. people.

The paradigm shift required by public realm organisations and institutions in modifying their approach to community is highlighted in Dan Duncan’s ‘ABCD, Toolkit’a practical manifestation of Asset Based Community Development, The New Paradigm for Effective Community Impact.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fig 2 New paradigm for effective community impact, Dan Duncan

The table in Fig 2 provides a clear distinction between a Needs/Deficit Based model, as delivered within the Linear process, and an Asset-Based process.

The Asset-Based approach is more often associated with community engagement provision. It is not beyond the bounds of reason to believe that such principles can be incorporated into a new design process for public realm services. While community and asset developments often focus on localised, neighbourhood, activity and shy away from participation in wider service development, it does not mean that such a principle cannot be used to enhance service provision, as long as the public realm process acknowledges the equality of partnerships and skills.

Additional information concerning Asset Based principles can be found at

The Welfare State Is An Extension Of Us, Not A Replacement For Us

The Paradox of the Marketplace

Models of engagement

While community development and ABCD can be guiding principles of service development, two models of engagement outline how the principles enshrined within the linear process can be challenged and modified.

Acknowledging that any service development is primarily an amelioration process, these models explore interventions at various levels and by various ‘partners’

Both models explore partnership, the Three Fields Development (fig 3) identifying the compartmentalisation of support and the Ring of Confidence (fig 4) identifying distinct roles that partners can play in supporting an individual.

 

THREE FIELD DEVELOPMENT – The Three Field™ process was outlined within a document published by RnR Organisation in July 2015

This model compartmentalises health and social care into three distinct components or Fields.

Field One – formal public sector (statutory sector) intervention – including Health provision, Care, Local Authority Services etc. These are developed and lead by ‘public sector’ professionals delivering statutory provision or essential services.

Field Two – the structured supply chain, including activities and services that support statutory services. Projects receive funding from a variety of sources, public realm as well as additional sources e.g. Big Lottery Fund, charitable trusts etc.

  • Projects are delivered predominantly through VCS organisations.

  • Projects and organisations form part of the statutory service supply chain and support partners. Projects are not standardised or enveloped by legislation [statutory provision] as are services in ‘Field One’.

  • Additional/external funding is however, increasingly related to needs identified through public sector data, and delivered with agreed milestones and outcomes.

Field Three – community activists and volunteer support, as individual assets, within community organisations or service provision. Individuals are involved as volunteers, providing support to beneficiaries of programmes, and they may also be beneficiaries of a service, linked to and supported by a community focused service provider.

 

 

 

 

 

 Fig 3 The Three Field Model.

RING OF CONFIDENCE (Fig 4).  – The Ring of Confidence™, developed by our colleagues in pocZero, acknowledges the ‘support’ surrounding an individual at any time in their life. In the diagram below, the blue circles denote statutory services while the others denote community services.

At any one time, an individual may receive support from a variety of services, or they may receive none at all, but the services are considered to be available.

Such services and support will alter throughout the lifetime of an individual so, while the titles attached to the circles (components) within the ‘ring’ may change, the relationship between the components and the support offered to or received by the individuals will not change.

Both Three Field™ and Ring of Confidence™ models appreciate the potential role of community/asset based development as part of a paradigm shift in planning and delivering the necessary changes to public realm systems thinking as part of a transformation of services.

 

Fig 4 Ring of Confidence™ (pocZero)

A third, intermediary model, BOXES OF SUPPORT™, provides a link between the two separate models.  The ‘boxes’ represent public realm services and community support identified in both the Three Field™ and the Ring of Confidence™ Models.

The Boxes Of Support acknowledge and compartmentalise support available to and/or required by individuals throughout their life or at specific stages within their life. The boxes identify ‘cogs’ to the ‘components’ identified within the Ring of Confidence™ and a clarity to constituent parts of each of the three fields.

The ‘boxes’ offer the basis of a ‘supply chain’ to be developed as part of a comprehensive ‘offer’ of support to individual throughout their life. While the Three Field™ Model and Ring of Confidence™ represent the nature of support for individuals the Boxes of Support™ identify specific elements of that support, statutory, community, family or volunteer.

Boxes outlined in Fig 5 are not comprehensive but indicative of the type of support that is available. The Boxes of Support™ concept acknowledges that, throughout an individual’s life, engagement and support with agencies and ‘communities’  can differ, therefore the content of the boxes can change or undertake a different role at different or specific stages.

It is crucial that, in any development or transformation provision, the support to individuals is the acknowledgement of the role of the ‘content’ of all the boxes, and the potential co-ordination of some of the boxes, and an acknowledgement of communication between the boxes supporting the individual.

Fig 5 Boxes Of Support™

These models acknowledge that community and asset-based activity can be developed, and often is, separate to public realm strategic service development. The models provide an outline that constructively facilitates and utilises community and asset engagement in the development, design and implementation of services, compartmentalising specific supports that encircle an individual as they come into contact with support services.

Compartmentalisation of services enables more specific categorisation of activities, enhancing programme planning activity, clarifying the specific and constructive role which assets and community organisations can play.

These two models are local to activity in and around Birmingham, and there may have been other structures designed by other organisations in other areas. Component 5 [as yet unpublished] identifies baseline processes that should be adopted in developing community engagement processes within a community and asset-based ethos.

It is essential to acknowledge that, while the ‘assets’ may be primarily unpaid volunteers, their role in any development should not focus on or emphasise the ‘free staff’ that may become available to a service, filling gaps created by cuts to services. Neither should the emphasis on community engagement focus on the role of public realm employed community development staff, or staff with a ‘community brief’.

Traditional public realm community engagement programmes, and staff remain focused on delivery within the Linear Process, within its ethos and objectives. This is not community/asset-based engagement.

The emphasis should be placed on the development or engagement of individuals who live in, or have a connection to, a community of geography, interest or culture. The process should utilise and acknowledge the skills and knowledge of the ‘assets’ in developing support and activities within communities, neighbourhoods/localities, and playing an active role in service identification, design and delivery.

Component One: Components in Transformation

Introduction

These series of essays seek to explore the concept of transformation within public realm provision, deconstructing the process into components, identifying issues, terminology and methods that have formed current practice and process and arguing in a public realm provision transformational process.

The term ‘component’ is used to identify the complexity of public realm process, acknowledging that there are a variety of ‘parts and processes’ within the services delivered through public realm funding.

Each component is explored, activity identified, and terminology examined within current and potential provision.

This first essay (Component One) provides an outline of definition and issues within a transformational process.

Subsequent essays will explore:

  • Current and Possible public realm ecosystem (Component Two)

  • Supply chain development (Wave Impact) within public realm funded programmes (Component Three)

  • Link between term used within commissioning and tendering and the ‘absolute’ definition (Component Four)

The final essay (Summary) will bring together all the issues outlined in the first four, exploring how they can influence transformation within public realm services.

Other RnR blogposts and publications will be referenced throughout the essays – these are relevant to the issue being explored within any specific component.

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; it has, however, 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 several 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 

Fig 1 Current Model, linear Process

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 of parishes in those days – 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.

  1. 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 most 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 unclear 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, people who have defined problems that need resolving, and people with the skills to resolve them. 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.

  1. 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 creates 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 is potentially disproportionally influenced by those employed to deliver the process, protecting both their status and their income.

Terms such as ‘co-design’ or ‘co-production’ are used to augment ‘stakeholder’ involvement in service development – but it’s 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 form the core of a re-thinking, the transformation of provision.

We believe that participants in such delivery should be from as wide a range in society 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.

 

1                      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;

 

 

Exploring public realm transformation

Introduction

Visualisations within this post are to be published soon by RnR Organisation in a series of essays that explore public realm transformation

The visualisations explore the systems within public realm process of decision making and its influences on other sectors, primarily the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS).

Within this post the visualisations are in 4 sections though they may appear in a different order in forthcoming essays

Section 1

This section (1 of 4) identifies what we call the current linear process of public realm decision making and its subsequent impact on transformation of VCS engagement within ‘product’ development and innovation of services (Fig 01).

Fig 01 Linear Process

The second visualisation (Fig 01i) identifies how the linear process affects the development of ‘products’ and services, with subsequent visualisations (Figs 01ii & 01iii) exploring how public realm transformation is driving and ‘informing’ product and service development within VCS organisations and the voluntary sector.

Fig 01i Linear Process transformation

 

Fig 01ii Supply Chain modified

 

Fig 01iii Supply Chain

 

 

 

Section 2

This section (2 of 4) explores alternative views of ecosystems of support

The Three Field [Asset Based Community Development] Model ™ (Fig 02) was developed by RnR Organisation in 2015. It compartmentalises aspects of support to individuals with health provision but can be utilised in other public provision.

Fig 02 Three Field Model

 

Fig 02i Ring of Confidence

The Ring of Confidence™ (Fig 02i) developed by Poc Zero, outlines agency support to an individual.

Boxes of Support™ (Fig 02ii) was developed by RnR Organisation, in discussion with Poc Zero, as an addendum to the Ring of Confidence™.

Fig 02ii Boxes of support
Fig 02iii New Paradigm

 

 

 

 

 

The next visualisation is Dan Duncan’s ‘New Paradigm for Effective Community Impact’ (Fig 02iii). This identifies the fundamental difference between needs and deficit-based provision, delivered through the linear process, and an asset-based approach that focusses on people being the core to developing ideas and activities. With additional resources available from ABCD Institute.

The last two visualisations (Fig 02iv & Fig 02v) provide a different view of the Three Field Model ™, identifying how commissioning and the linear process affects current practice within Field One (Statutory provision), Field Two (Places to go) and Field Three (Community assets).

Fig 02iv Three Field Commissioning Model

 

Fig 02v Linear Process and Three Field

 

Section 3

This section (3 of 4) outlines processes that are included within public realm commissioning but, we would argue, not in their ‘absolute’ forms.

Product development (innovation) (Fig 03) is a term used frequently within commissioning processes, as are the terms design, co-design and co-production (Design Process, Fig 03i). The visualisations provide an outline of what we consider to be ‘absolute’ processes.

Fig 03 Product Development Process

 

Fig 03i Design Process

This section also visualises the data ecosystem. One visualisation (Fig 03ii) is our representation of the public realm data ecosystem – who holds data, where that data is used and how it can impact on products to market. This ecosystem includes campaigns for opening data, lobbying and campaigning groups.

The Open Data Institute (ODI) Data Spectrum (Fig 03iii) provides an outline of which data sits where, from Closed to Open, and the last visualisation (Fig 03iv) explores how the ecosystem and Data Spectrum can begin to be fused together, exploring how data can be utilised in public realm decision making process

Fig 03ii Data Ecosystem

 

Fig 03iii Open Data Ecosystem with Three Field

 

Fig 03iv Closed Shared Open Data

Section 4

This last section (4 of 4) begins to fuse all the elements in the previous 3 sections into visualisations that lead to a new decision-making process.

The first two (Fig 04 & Fig 04i) re-present earlier visualisations with slight modification.

Fig 04 Three Field and data ecosystem 2

 

Fig 04i Linear Process and Three Field

The next two (Fig 04ii & Fig 04iii) explore issues related to data collection – by Field One organisations, from both Field Two organisations and Field Three ‘assets’

Fig 04ii Linear Data Collection

 

Fig 04iii Three Field Data Collection

 

Following that there are two further visualisations (Fig 04iv & Fig 04v) exploring the fusion of the Three Field Model ™ and the data ecosystem and how that process can be used to gather data.

Fig 04iv Three Field and Data Ecosystem

 

Fig 04v Three Field and Data collection system

The last visualisation (Fig 04vi) identifies a service development, decision making, eco-system that brings together aspects of previous visualisations.

Fig 04vi Wider Data Proposal

All images published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial- ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC-BY-SA-4.0) unless otherwise attributed

 

Role of VCS organisations in academic research

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 eLife challenge at HackTheMidlands 2017 and influenced by the content and thinking of this post 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

Asset-based transformation: an introduction

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, Three Field Asset Based Community Development (green section), together with structures developed by Poc Zero 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

When is a market not a market?

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’.

State of my blog: You’ve done too much…

MultitaskI have so much to say about the various areas of work I’m doing that I don’t know where to start sometimes!

My friend Lorna Prescott (@dosticen on Twitter) says to start with the most enjoyable thing, the thing that you’re enjoying right now but I’m still stuck – sometimes this multi-tasking that women do means it’s hard to concentrate and get one thing done well i.e.to my own satisfaction.

The blog posts in my Drafts are:

  • FutureShift Festival reflections
  • When the public sector says “We haven’t got any money”
  • Building a West Midlands Open Datastore

And another one that could develop into a series so I don’t even want to say what it is yet

I know I’m not the only person with a busy life, working in many different fields – it’s called a portfolio career after all – but if anyone has a solution to this dilemma that works for them, please share it with the rest of us!

Cultivating Cultural Symposium, Local Arts in Birmingham and a Parade

Cllr Karen McCarthy totally ignored St Patrick’s Festival in her introduction to the Cultivating Culture symposium on 18th March, focusing on Art Soak festival (Selly Oak) and Flat Pack. She promoted engagement in cultural activity as well as utilisation of artistic activity and the engagement and encouraging of individuals in arts / cultural activity – so, are the 80,000 people on the streets of Digbeth on March 16th and attendances at several related events in the week leading up to the Parade on Sunday not prime examples of this?

I’m confident Cllr McCarthy wasn’t ignoring the Irish, or the impact that the festival has on the City. I’m sure she was focusing on the programme funded through the ‘Arts and Cultural’ elements of the City Council, as opposed to a major City event that is supported through the Events Team within the Council.

It does, however, highlight a dichotomy in Birmingham City Council as to what people consider as arts and culture. What is the role of our arts champions within the City? More importantly, there is a need to identify the role of the whole arts champions programme – is it a community development and engagement programme that uses arts and cultural activities as a conduit for engagement, or is it an aesthetic development programme that aims to increase engagement in established or new arts activities?

Whatever the City Council decides, it has to acknowledge the role wider ‘City’ events, the Parade and Festival, Vaisakhi, Melas, Carnival etc play in its artistic and cultural portfolio. At the moment there seems to be an implicit indication that they do not fall into an arts and cultural remit.

Yet the Parade fits all categories. It is nothing without its participants – dance schools, music from a variety of bands, modern, traditional, pipe bands etc., sports organisations – GAA football and hurling clubs. As a Festival, leading up to the Parade, there were a number of events that focused on cultural activities – storytelling, music and dancing, and the art of the younger generation.
Community groups provide and decorate the floats, as well as fund the musicians – they host visiting bands as well as attending the Festival events.

The BBC recently asked the question “Is Birmingham still an Irish City?”. The article cited census statistics and the number of people who had identified as Irish. The Parade on the 16th March 2014 proves that Birmingham certainly is an Irish City – the multi generational presence, children as participants in social and cultural events and people celebrating their culture and heritage.

So I return to my opening statement. In an event promoted by the arts and culture team of the City Council the Parade gets no mention, neither did other ‘cultural’ activities.

The symposium focused on communities of geography, districts / constituencies, the multi cultural powerhouse that is Birmingham. Because those are the things that this department / section of the Council funds, and in an artistic elitist atmosphere, it seems that Parades are not worthy of presence or mention; even though they may tick all of the artistic, cultural, and engagement boxes you could think of designing.

So where do the Irish and their inclusive Parade fit in the cultural life of the City? Where does it fit in a silo focused City Council whose elitist arts programme ignores Parades leaving it to the ‘events’ teams?

Whose responsibility is it to identify the cultural, economic, marketing and community engagement element of the Parade and let it stand alongside local arts events?

One last thought, Birmingham festival website does not include any of the above mentioned festivals, but that’s another story.

First thoughts as to where VCS are in relation to LEPs

Background
Local Enterprise Partmerships (LEPs) were established to develop a local growth agenda, locally driven by businesses that had a buy-in to a distinct geography, supported by Local Authorities and other influential institutions, FE Colleges and Universities. LEPs developed strategic plans, recognised skills deficiency and suggested ameliorative processes to enhance their growth programme.

This was all fine and dandy, with government programmes being routed through the process, focusing such activity through the development plans, business plans being reviewed and evaluated with a business eye, and then along comes Europe!

In November 2012 after some deliberation, but coming as no surprise to those who had read Lord Heseltine’s report ‘No Stone Unturned’, The Department for Business, Innovation & Skills (BIS) announced that the EU Structural Funds 2014 -2020 were to be directed through the LEPs.

While they waited for the initial guidance which eventually arrived in April and July 2013, LEPs went about their business, merrily developing their strategic plans within their initial structures, business orientated growth programmes targeting, predominantly, private sector enterprise, acknowledging the growing sound bites that it was the private sector, and not the public sector, that creates the wealth.
LEP and VCS engagement – a stalled start

In their initial development LEPs had little, and in some cases, no contact with Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations. From November 2012 there was an increased flurry of activity by some LEPs with VCS organisations as they began to discuss how LEPs and the Sector could benefit each other.

What didn’t help matters was the variety of names and terminology used to describe the activities of VCS organisations:
· Civic Society
· Civil Society
· The Third Sector
· Non Government Organisations (NGOs)
· The Voluntary Sector
· Social Enterprises
· Charities
· Community groups

Adding to the confusion of titles was the variety of perceptions of where the Sector gets its money from.

Some basic statistics
VCS organisations constitute an important sector of the economy, creating jobs and economic value, as well as social and environmental benefits. According to research by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), there are over 162,000 voluntary organisations in the UK. These organisations employ 793,000 people (around 2.7% of the UK workforce), and additionally they spend around £18.1bn on goods and services each year. At the same time there are over 60,000 social enterprises in the UK, and 5,950 co-operatives employing 230,000 people.

LEPs and Europe
With the announcement that LEPs were to ‘oversee’ the 2014-2020 structural funds, LEPs had to begin to accommodate new concepts and partnerships in order to deliver EU programmes.

Whilst ESF and ERDF were known programmes, terms like social inclusion, social innovation, community lead local development were unfamiliar. These concepts were to be accommodated into new strategic plans that would outline how the LEP would deliver a European funded programme, and so consultation began.

LEP and VCS engagement – a second bite
While an LEP is capable of delivering economic growth, it will be necessary for it to develop strategic partnerships with VCS organisations in order to fulfil, not only EU requirements, but also to enable them to deliver a growth agenda that accommodated the socio-, as well as the economic, growth agenda.

In some cases, the LEP journey of partnership with VCS was easier than in others – some sought out partnerships, some had partnerships within their existing agenda, and others continued without any partnership plans.

Those LEPs that recognised the importance of an ‘inclusive economic growth’ programme have recognised that the delivery of any growth agenda requires the engagement of those furthest from the labour market, people who, for whatever reason, take longer to become, or in some cases cannot fully become, economically active, and are continually excluded from accepted ‘norms’ and mainstream activity. For this engagement to be achieved, community lead organisations need to be involved.

LEP and VCS – issues to be addressed confusions to be clarified
The most common prejudice faced by the sector in any engagement is the focus on the charitable aspect of the sector, and not on the business aspect. There is often a misguided view that organisations receive grants to deliver to those in need. Much less is known or appreciated of the new commissioning and procurement aspects of public services, and the sometimes onerous open tendering process which organisations need to go through to win contracts, even small ones.

The concept of ‘Social Enterprise’ was often confused with ‘charitable’ delivery and, therefore, in some cases, ignored. There is evidence throughout the country, through information sharing at VCS network meetings, of sparse appreciation of the activity and role of the VCS.
This ignorance or lack of appreciation has prevented significant partnerships being developed, and while the role of LEPs was purely economic growth, stimulated only by the private sector, the management of European Structural Funds brings wider responsibilities.

The most successful LEPs and VCS partnerships occur where there is a historical connection between local and regional infrastructure organisations and the current European Management processes in Local Management Groups.

What therefore does the sector bring to LEPs?
While there is little argument that local, regional and national economic growth policies are a necessity, where such activity can be lead by business, it can be supported by public sector funding. However, the lack of penetration and engagement of public sector programmes has consistently failed to engage a certain percentage of the population. Whatever title we give this, or these groups, (for they are not a homogeneous community, geographically, culturally or socially), if we are to develop a fully integrated socio-economic growth programme, they must be engaged to their fullest potential, and at a pace that maintains and sustains their engagement.

We cannot assume that all individuals are capable of full time employment within the labour market. Are then these economically excluded individuals not to be included in mainstream developments and provision, or just managed/cared for, within other provision?

Are we to ‘lump’ all these people together or, building on the concept of the individual, develop communities of geography or interest, with civic activities that can include the individuals, starting the journey from their own specific capability and journeying, at their own pace, arriving at a destination with which they are comfortable?

What the VCS offers the LEPs is access to such groups, and the ability to engage them in relevant, developmental and sustainable programmes that will engage them, over a period of time, in the socio-economic development of an area.

There is significant evidence throughout the country where community and civically lead programmes have stimulated local engagement in economic regeneration and growth activity. Social innovation programmes can develop a social economy, and can generate sustainable activities that can accommodate developments which facilitate the necessary engagement outlined above.

This process is not one of ‘charity and care’, ‘handouts and management’, but one of business, humanity, and compassion, with an understanding of the individual’s journey, place and circumstances, and an appreciation of the economy, targets and their achievement capability, matched to a support programme to accomplish set and agreed targets and activities.