Filed under: event, Public Sector Design, Transformation Design | Tags: cocreation, codesign, coproduction, design, event, london, nesta, servicedesign
Last week, I found time to go to the NESTA Right here Right now Launch: Taking Coproduction into the mainstream. The event, focusing on taking coproduction as a marginal idea into the mainstream is the third of a three part series of reports from a collaboration between the New Economics Foundation and Nesta.
Re-reading NEF’s coproduction pamphlet, published two years ago I was struck by Edgar Cahn’s words on the term being hot on the lips of politicians, on both sides of the atlantic. Now more than ever, with our ‘big society’ and having to do ‘more for less’ it’s time to push Co-production in the mainstream. If you’re not sure what Coproduction is I suggest mulling over the three Nesta reports but for a summary of it’s inception;
“The term ‘co-production’ was coined originally at the University of Indiana in the 1970s when Professor Elinor Ostrom was asked to explain to the Chicago police why the crime rate went up when the police came off the beat and into patrol cars. She used the term as a way of explaining why the police need the community as much as the community need the police.”
Going back to Nef’s publication, this is a stand out for me;
“Neither markets nor centralised bureaucracies are effective models for delivering public services based on relationships. The author of System Failure, Jake Chapman, explains why, with market systems, ‘you can deliver pizza but you can’t deliver public services’. Market logic applies to narrow deliverables, but misses out the crucial dimension that allows doctors to heal, teachers to teach and carers to care: the relationship with patient, pupil or client. Centralised bureaucracies, public and private, find it equally hard to grasp these essentials.”
Following the discussion after the launch of the final Nesta Paper, the above quote from 2008 is very poignant. Designers ask three questions. What, how and why and what I’m experiencing from many of these co-design publications is people asking the how?
I often see elements of design as the process to drive this ideology. To me, the design process seems like the glue that will hold these together, and as a way of driving a co-production manifesto.
The question and answer session showed that this how question is where we get stuck. Garath Symonds who works at Surrey County Council sat on the panel as someone who has pushed this way of working on a local level. Questions were fired at him and his reply was,
“Just do it”
If the audience could have clapped, I feel there may have been a small ripple of applause. Gareth was someone that takes risks and gets this. I have always seen so many parallels between what I’ve done as a service designer and coproduction. Putting users (n.b users also mean staff) at the centre of service design and delivery. The mindset of co-creation (often seen in work I’ve been part of) as a vehicle to develop services and push towards co-production. Co-production is not just a design process and I would never say design is the panacea, but I believe expert facilitation attributed with a design process and involving different experts and frameworks at different stages, would be a good way of driving this process. I’ve seen services and social enterprises produced by designers that embody much of what co-production is about and reach a stage of dellivery. I’ll talk about some other points but Nick Marsh of Sidekick picked up on a great ‘that’s a thing’ point about the dependency of users on public services.
The publication had quite a few recommendations for taking co-production into the main stream.
1. Build the key features of co-production into existing services
2. Change the systems and structures that underpin public services
3. Make it everybody’s business
4. Shift the role of frontline staff
5. Get the best out of ‘personalised’ services
6. Put the right incentives in place
7. Build co-production into the commissioning framework
8. Give priority to prevention
9. Encourage flexibility and collaborative working
10. Measure what matters
11. Launch more prototypes in new sectors
12. Embed co-production as the ‘default’ model through a ‘Co-production Guarantee’
Some tough challenges, co-production works as a small scale project, and something very local, but public services face huge challenges, not just in the way an organisation is structured but in their processes and mindset they will need if they want to adopt co-production as a way of doing.
The publication summarises with future thinking moving away from tick box processes to a more human way forward. The big question is, who is going to take this forward?
“This is a new kind of public sector, with complex relationships rather than complex metrics at its heart.”
And how the hell are we going to measure this? Some of the final words of the event focused on co-production being an inherent value, and to me this rings a bell for something I’ve been considering for a long time…that it’s perhaps not a way of doing, it’s not a process, it’s a way of being.
The idea does perplex me (in a good way) but it’s something I want to be involved in, and I believe in it, it’s just finding a language that can dilute it into a process that will aim to achieve the outcomes it strives to deliver. To finish with the final words of the event,
“Perhaps this is not a policy, but a movement”
Anyone who is looking to do ‘more for less’ should be taking a leaf out of CH4’s Undercover boss series. I’m not saying that we take every CEO of a company and put them on the frontline undercover, but that we do learn from the knowledge at the frontline.
The one that interested me the most was the Tower Hamlets episode.
For me, Tim, part of the pest control service summed it up for me.
“we’re not there to make a profit, we’re here to run a service”
For anyone who is not familiar with the series, a ‘top dog’ of a company will go into the ‘coal face’ and spend time with staff understanding what their job is like. In this episode, Kevin Collins the chief exec of Tower Hamlets council spent time with the meals on wheels service, pest control, the homeless office and other much needed local services.
Kevin hits the nail on the head about this being different to private services,
“being the chief executive of a public company is different to a private one, the people are my shareholders.”
Before leaving for the front line Kevin talked about the council needing to take risks to improve their services, which, in our current economic climate, is a difficult thing to stand up and say.
“I’m sure there is going to be an absolute wealth of information…I’m going to understand the organisation better, get to know the staff, and tell people how we can do our job better”
His first stop was with meals on wheels. Experiencing the service as a front line staff member showed Kevin that decisions made were more than just numbers. The people receiving the service were often elderly, vulnerable or living with a disability and the visit was their only point of contact in a day.
The next stop was a council office providing vital services to people who were homeless. Kevin commented,
“having the right temperament at the first moment you’re met, sets the right tone”
Malakay, the receptionist was highly commended by Kevin, and the way he discussed the young man, was like that of a touchpoint. By experiencing first hand the centre, Kevin could see that this is not a service that can be cut but other improvements could make the service more efficient and save money.
“There were questions though, like could the computer system be better. It could be slicker and faster”
Tom, from pest control, for me, summed up something I’ve been struggling with to understand is why design, or what the value is for public services. Tom showed the Kevin the extra mile he went to in finding the root of a pest problem. Kevin compared to how an outsourced company may just treat the problem. In a private world, creating additional value is all about increasing profits. In the public sector world, it’s almost about ‘throttling’ numbers, it’s about the prevention of foot fall not just the treatment. An interesting thought for what ‘added value’ might mean in the design context.
“what we run is a kind of a whole service, which allows us to get to the causes rather than just the symptoms, I’ve got to think whether you’d get such a whole service if you farmed it out”
The programme ends with Kevin inviting the people he met to his office, unveiling the fact he is not ‘Colin’ (his undercover name) but their boss. What I really appreciated here was that he then invited the staff members to become involved in projects, which sums up for me, an integral part of any embedding design work in the public sector. Harness the knowledge your staff have. Secondly,they felt valued, with one staff member commenting that they, ‘finally felt listened to’.
The video above is a previous ‘star’ of Under Cover Boss who discusses how the show helped him to see what elements of their service needs improved by experiencing the service from the staff’s point of view. You could liken this to Shadowing, an ethnographic technique often used in Service Design.
For example, the company ditched a monthly newsletter which was costing them money, but no one was reading it. They have now opted for more regular news in short snippets. Experiencing a service first hand, always makes you understand more emphatically what it feels like, both for the customer and the staff who deliver it. This is far more powerful and rich than any survey could achieve. While numbers are not to be sniffed at, these qualitative methods should go hand in hand with quantitative analysis. As Stephen Martin, CEO of Clugston Group says above,
“Information is filtered through at least a dozen levels, by the time it reaches the CEO you’re not getting the real heart felt emotions from the workforce”
Filed under: Masters in Design Innovation, Public Sector Design, Transformation Design, work | Tags: change, design, experience, interviews, led, organisation, people, professionals, service, transformation
I’ve been a bit quiet as I’m blogging away on a closed platform, I’m not allowed to share everything I’m up to, but I can cross post occasionally.
I’ve been doing a round of interviews/chats with some fantastic people and just wanted to summarise who I’ve met so far. This is a thank you from me for all your time and knowledge!
The topics ranged from how to embed design in organisations, how project teams might work, encouraging a culture of innovation, systems thinking, meta design, and reflection on what makes up a designer, to name but a few.
Below is a selection of interviews completed so far;
I will be disseminating these over the coming week and pulling out useful case studies and advice for how to embed design in organisations. And meeting some new (and old) faces next week in London.
I’m free (ish) next Monday to Wednesday if anyone is around for a drink.