We often work with people as if the only insights relevant to use are the experience and needs they have towards a service — i.e. renewing a blue badge — an issue — i.e. getting a job — or a neighbourhood.

But their experiences and expectations are shaped by similar experiences of using services, influences from their networks (i.e. “you can’t get a job through the job centre, so don’t sign on”) and the relationships the people they trust the most (have) had with particular services (i.e. parents who failed their exams at school) and external pressures (i.e. …

In this practical and uplifting blog, Alice Sachrajda says “just as every story has a beginning, middle and an end so does the pandemic. But the difference is, this is a story that hasn’t been written yet. It’s an open book and we all have a role to play in shaping the story that unfolds”.

There are also more great “Tips for framing covid19” from Ella Saltmarshe. And the Frameworks Institute are “pulling guidance from twenty years of framing research and practice to help advocates and experts be heard and understood in a time of global crisis” in a series of briefings.

Julia Unwin writes well on language and other aspects of our response to the crisis. She also contributed to this Compass podcast alongside Jennifer Nadel and David Robinson.

I love reading and writing, and I instinctively prefer reading non-fiction — from delving into the history of different cultures to getting under the skin of people’s journeys across the world to recipes! All of my blogs are non-fiction too. At the same time, I love learning creative ways to do things, to stretch my imagination, so I’ve been on a creative writing course and this is one of the exercises…

What does it feel like to be a refugee from Aleppo in Syria fleeing war and famine to be refused asylum and sent back home?

What does it feel…

At our event on how we drive corporate improvement, Alistair Hughes, Assistant Director for Improvement at Greenwich Council shared the journey of his organisation. This was followed by a discussion on how to link medium-term financial strategies with strategic planning, how to support the senior leadership to develop and drive the vision at both officer and political level, how to mobilise managers across the improvement programme and in particular frontline staff who will be solving problems with residents and will have insightful ideas on how to make the change positive with them.

An then one of the participants asked…

A few years ago, the ECF Foundation launched a new fund for groups across Europe to bid for money to test out creative ways to building community. Nothing new you might say, except the way they did it was to start with your usual call for applications for ideas that met the criteria but should deliberately not be fully formed.

They then invited the top 25 ideas to a three-day incubator in Marseille where they inspired talks, tours around the neighbourhoods of the city and training around speaking, prototyping and media, but most importantly coached us to find ideas &…

I’ve written before about embedding a cooperative approach, but how do you translate that into commissioning? Here are a few lessons I’ve learnt:

  • Focus on social value, not just cost
  • Start with people and co-produce outcomes with them
  • Think beyond service structures and invest in outcomes

If through the commissioning process, you want to set up a new business model like a coop or a mutual, for it to work in practice, it requires:

  • Helping people through the changes and alternative skills needed
  • Considering and assessing risk in a different way
  • Developing strategies that help meet complex challenges and overcome…

What do we mean by invisible borders? It’s about the psychological, social and cultural barriers that people face to taking part in the community, with a particular focus on newcomers and identifying those people using unusual behaviours to break down those borders.

As globalisation breaks down geographic, cultural & economic borders, it impacts our lives, creating new opportunities, but also new insecurities.

Not knowing how to navigate a world constantly redefined, many people become tempted to re-create cultural & psychological borders to protect themselves from what they can’t control nor understand.

Despite the opportunities that globalisation creates, only some have…

What does local mean when the shop window of an eBay trader is closer to you on your laptop than the independent clothes store down your high street? Who has a more multicultural experience, the kid going to school in Brick Lane or the Shropshire gamer learning Minecraft with children from across the world?

Globalisation isn’t a new phenomenon, but today its impact is critical. The internet has accelerated the trend towards total, immersive connectedness, influencing every aspect of our daily lives. This form of digital globalisation is breaking down geographic, cultural and economic borders; as more of us spend…

I was at Design Council for the start of their Design for the Public Sector programme where different councils came together to test & learn how design could help tackle complex issues, from what skills will Londoners need in the future to using different levers to tackle the climate emergency, helping people live better out of the hospital to how can help communities reduce violence and improve their resilience.

I’ve written recently about how designers need to work more closely with systems thinker and vice versa. Design Council is an organisation that takes a whole systems approach to design, and…

I’ve written about how we can use data & insight in public services, what types of insight we have to work with and how we can leverage it to rapidly support services.

We know there’s a diversity of data and insights we can use to show the impact of the council and our communities in improving outcomes, to enable communities to create and use their own data & insights to improve their neighbourhoods and to identify opportunities for improvement and mobilise people to tackle them.

Here are three ways I’ve seen or been involved in you can do that innovatively.


Head of Strategy (Communities) @camdencouncil #localgov Director @euroalter Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese

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