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 barriers
Cooperative or collaborative commissioning doesn’t have to be about commissioning services but can be about investing in activities or brokering better outcomes with people. However, even the activities and services that are designed cooperatively won’t by themselves bring about change without stimulating the motivation and skills that staff, users and residents need to be involved.
Spinning out should not be the end goal of collaborative commissioning, but is considered one of the models that could be used. Even if turning a service into a mutual or a cooperative is the best way forward, making it a success still involves support from local authorities, whether that’s:
- Incubating coops so they can grow on their own two feet
- Developing the local market and supply chains so that providers can achieve the outcomes
- Creating more flexible contracts to focus on outcomes rather than outputs
- Exploring innovative ways of building social value into procurement
- Create systemic change itself through campaigning for more affordable utilities
Another business model you could use is to create an accelerator.
You develop the necessary sector-specific expertise to exploit the potential of teams, while mentors act as business angels and “investors in disguise”. You can select mentors from within your organisation and they can help play an important role in helping civic entrepreneurs find their way through the internal decision-making system of your organisation.
You can also create a platform for your sector to collaborate on innovation with early-stage ventures and involve other organisations in the selection process of their ventures.
They help develop an ecosystem of startups within the region or issue. They can help to incubate the solution or implement the product/idea.