On systems change in the third sector (part 2)

In part 1, we argued that there are clear factors that ideally position the VCSFE sector to respond to complex challenges that show up in our communities. Yet this potential isn’t fulfilled. In part 2 we explore how the sector might align its efforts in order to liberate the best it has to offer.  The […]

On systems change in the third sector (part 1)

“…If you want to understand function, study structure”  Francis Crick Despite advancements in health, technology, living standards, education and wealth, their benefits have not been evenly distributed, giving rise to the wicked social challenges that blight many people’s lives. Climate change, conflict, growing levels of inequality in health, wealth, and opportunity are challenges that are […]

On convening across systems

One of the stranger performance measures that local government used to have to report to Whitehall in the early 2000s was on rough sleeping. Periodically officers would be required to undertake a survey, literally walking or driving around and counting the numbers of people they found. To what end were we collecting and reporting this […]

On improving health outcomes

The RSA’s Inclusive Growth Commission, reporting in 2018, recognised the role that poor health can play in contributing to the key challenges of unequal economic growth and poor productivity. Data analysis and visual mapping conducted by the Commission highlighted the association between poor health, economic inactivity and exclusion from labour markets; illness amongst the working […]

On levelling up (part 2)

This blog is an initial response to the recent publication ‘Levelling up our communities: a new social covenant’ by Danny Kruger MP. Let me start by saying that, on the surface, anything that raises the debate around the importance of community is a good thing. On this measure, the recent report by Danny Kruger MP […]

On (dis)investing in prevention

The recent review into Sure Start children’s centres offers a window into a complex system: early years services. They were designed to bring a range of such service sunder one roof and improve access, often in the more disadvantages communities in the UK. Indeed, in my local government role I sat on a board for a […]

On moving fast and fixing things

Commissioning and innovation are two terms that belong together, yet all too often they remain separated, unless it is to describe the inability of the former to achieve the latter. In this piece I’ll explore why they are normally used as either/or terms and share some learning from places that are actively trying to put […]

On why innovations don’t scale

One of the reasons that insights in public services don’t readily scale is that we face such radically different contexts in our communities. How can we afford to invest time and effort in practices that might help drive innovation within our organisations and partnerships when we are also custodians of public money? Line up your […]

On coalitions and partnerships

How do we identify and account for the value in bringing a range of diverse people, perspectives and organisations together, initiated by a challenge or local imperative for action and change? If there is a sense of collective value, what are the possibilities we can achieve by working together during and after any period of […]

On best practice engagement and participation

I thought it might be of value to share the key points arising from a recent literature review into what makes effective citizen participation, engagement and co-production. In this short piece I summarise core principles behind good engagement; the barriers to and enablers of good participation; as well as factors that make a difference to […]