Inside the head of a designer

Coproduction and citizenship
December 16, 2009, 11:31 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Coproduction and citizenship: Two words that have been echoed round and round and round and round in the last few weeks at every conference I’ve been to and recent paper I’ve read.

There’s been a couple of interesting publications released recently, and in good timing for me as with a piece of writing due myself in the New Year, it’s given me (even more) food for thought.

First up is a joint piece between Nef and Nesta: ‘The Challenge of Co Production‘.  Here David Boyle and Michael Harris define it as,

“Co-production means delivering public services in an equal and reciprocal relationship between professionals, people using services, their families and their neighbours. Where activities are co-produced in this way, both services and neighbourhoods become far more effective agents of change.”

What’s been interesting here is to think about this in the context of being a designer and facilitating this process.  I’m writing over the holiday period about the ethical approach of the designer as an active practitioner in co-design and co-production.  When undertaking a project along the lines of co-production we must be very careful to remember the impact we are making to people’s lives, and not to parachute in as designers and skip off again.  It could be said that the ethos of co-production would prevent this from happening, and as part of the project, support networks must be set up, sustainability runs as a key theme in the work, and the job is to transform and empower people to become part of the initiative being co-produced and take the reigns of it.

“Co-production has the capacity to transform public services: Co-production has to be potentially transformative, not just for the individuals involved, but also for the professionals who are struggling to put it into practice and for the system as a whole. Public service workers will need to change the way they think about their role and how they operate and the people they have come to know as ‘users’, ‘patients’ or ‘clients’ who will now become their equal partners; they need to change their attitudes, priorities and training. They need to move from fixers to facilitators.”

The second piece was released from the Young Foundation, Public Services and Civil Society Working Together,

The initial think piece, looks at various themes of how we can build a civil society in the UK to support and work with our local services.  It looks at some of the barriers including understanding personal responsibility and how we might motivate people through incentives, or focusing on a campaign on a hyperlocal level, so people have ‘minimal’ effort to get involved.

The report comes slightly after a Demos paper, Service Nation, which took the idea of a compulsory Youth Civic Service to a group of young people from different backgrounds to talk about the idea.

“Serving your community should be woven into every stage of life…”

What do you think about a civic service?  Why do we want civic service? What would effective civic service look like? Would civic service be compulsory or voluntary? And how can civic service schemes be funded in a tough fiscal climate? Is a civic service the right way to tackle our current social problems and lack of community?


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[…] words co-production, citizenship and co-creation rarely leave my radar at the moment and I really can’t think of a better way to be an active […]

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