Big Society


Strategic Doing – has much of the ring of 21st century public service about it

Posted on 23rd June 2014 by

Tessy Britton linked to an article on accelerating civic innovation through “Strategic Doing”.  It reminds me greatly of her/the thinking behind the Civic Foundry she’s running here in Birmingham and will also help me articulate some of the ideas behind a community partnership we’re supporting in Birmingham.  ON top of that it helps define some of the skills 21st Century Public servants will need.  The essence from the article is that doing things is more productive than planning things and that doing works best if you apply these principles…

To quote:

Now consider another really messy challenge: bridging the manufacturing “skills gap.” With the Advancing Manufacturing initiative in Lafayette, Indiana, manufacturers have joined with the community college and local government to strengthen the collaborations needed for more-productive job training. The initiative is now spreading across Indiana.

Craig Lamb, former executive director of the Corporate College at Ivy Tech, Indiana’s community college system, organized a core team to take on the challenge of filling the manufacturing skills gap. Advancing Manufacturing aligns several organizations (the community college, the workforce board, the city, the chamber, employers, and others) into a functioning unit under a single brand.

According to Lamb, “Strategic doing provided the framework for us to find common purpose. We developed a new program without adding any overhead—every resource came from linking and leveraging existing entities’ strengths.” For Lamb, strategic doing integrated simplicity, inclusion, and strategic focus.

This approach formalizes a set of seven factors that correlate with successful strategies we’ve seen in more than 100 communities across the United States—the more effective the strategy, the stronger the correlation. Successful strategies:

  • Build on existing assets

  • Operate with a network organizational structure that connected those assets

  • Use an iterative planning and implementation process

  • Decentralize implementation responsibilities among multiple organizations

  • Move forward with a progression of shorter-term goals

  • Use metrics to learn what works and make adjustments along the way

  • Demonstrate high levels of trust and a readiness for change among the those engaged

Yup.

 

 

 

Doing is what makes things better…..

Posted on 3rd June 2014 by

I found this set of thoughts on Wicked Problems (jargon for social problems that are right tricky to solve) and Open innovation   via Andrea Siodmok’s post on twitter.

I’m not convinced by everything here but on the third slide  there was one simple idea which experience tells me is very true…

“You only understand the problem once you try solving it.”

I’ve often found that I set off with the serious intent to solve a problem, but in truth succeed in understanding what we could do better next time. I know that’s a statement of the bleedin’ obvious but it sometimes helps to do that.

This is why iterative change is important.  This is why rolling up your sleeves and doing something, then pausing, reflecting and doing some more is so important.  It’s why community lead solutions can often be very effective and planned top down ones often fail.

So thanks Andrea and Sameer Vasta for helping me clarify that in my head.

Skills needed for 21st century public service.

Posted on 1st June 2014 by
Click on the image to download the pdf of  the literature review

Click on the image to download the pdf of the literature review

A good dollop of our work is about helping public servants work differently in a world where power through communication is shifting and many citizens want and are happy to have more control. Over the years we have urged thousands  of people to tend to their “stock pot of social capital” – especially public servants who are often more used to serving systems than relationships.

So I keep coming back to the nature of  21st century public service. Whether it’s pleading to not sack the connectors,  suggesting ways to merge citizenship and public service or simply reflecting on values or skills, the shift is behaviour and attitude that is needed fascinates.

I am enjoying working a little (supporting their social media) with the team at Birmingham University who are investigating just this subject.

Catherine Mangan, Catherine Needham and Helen Dickinson have just published a review of literature on this subject and identified 8 key themes on the future of public service,:

  1. Future public services will require a different set of workforce roles than in the past:   “public services of the future will require more relational approaches. “
  2. Citizens are changing too  “Whilst ‘consumer’ is a term with a range of meanings, one interpretation is that it is an individualistic and passive perspective, in which people expect to interact with public services through the same customer paradigm that operates in the commercial sector. This can be contrasted with more co-productive approaches that recognise and harness citizen expertise and appetite for involvement so that they are a key part of service improvement”
  3. Generic skills will be as important as technical skills for future public servants   ‘twenty-first century literacies’. These include: interpersonal skills (facilitation, empathy, political skills);synthesising skills (sorting evidence, analysis, making judgements, offering critique and being creative); organising skills for group work, collaboration and peer review; communication skills, making better use of new media and multi-media resources
  4. Ethics and values are changing as the boundaries of public service shift “Better understanding the bundle of incentives that motivate people to serve the public is part of the workforce challenge for 21st Century public services.
  5. Emotional labour will be a key element of future public service work  “Emotional labour is defined as, ‘the expression of one’s capacity to manage personal emotions, sense others’ emotions, and to respond appropriately, based on one’s job’”
    Perma-austerity is catalysing and inhibiting change “continuity seems to dominate within local government…witness in salami slicing tactics (less of the same) rather than bold new visions…”
  6. Hero leaders aren’t the answer “a need for a newkind of public sector leader to respond to the changing context, in which leadership beyond boundaries and beyond spans of authority will become more important”
  7. Lots of professions are coming to these conclusions, but are tackling the issues separately

The literature review alone is a useful read – yet to come will be interviews with public servants and recommendation.