Taking it to the streets

4 min readAug 31, 2020


We’re working with UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose on taking mission-based approaches to help our policy development. These focus on how we frame missions, develop organisational capabilities, develop finance and dynamic measurement.

On framing missions, they helped us surface the challenge of how you do that in a local context where you don’t have as much agency as you would in a national or international context, while building on Camden 2025.

It made me think that local government and more so local places have their own unique strengths when it comes to developing missions. They can use missions to:

1. Root local places in the everyday innovations that help communities and places thrive, like We Make Camden

Transition Town starts from the entrepreneurial activism that is at the heart of the neighbourhoods it operates in from Brixton to Kentish Town via Totnes. Where I live, it provides a platform that can combine a political challenge of the system — big businesses swallowing local economies, high streets turning into clone towns, entrepreneurs and pop up spaces being coopted for commercial profit — with innovate ideas to change people’s behaviour economically — like local currencies, alternative energy or social value exchanges between traders & communities. Likewise, Brixton Pound roots itself in the community, not just by helping localise spending but showing local Brixton faces on its notes. Alternative energy isn’t just about the environment, it’s using people’s rooftops to capture energy.

2. Build movements that celebrate & grow the innovations of our local communities & economies, like Public Collaboration Lab

Alternative Camden starts to combine the radical challenge of a network like Transition Town with the creative innovation with a challenge on how technology monopolies have coopted digital to entrench their dominance and manipulate us into just thinking and acting as consumers. It also challenges outmoded models of governance which entrench the status quo and power inequalities. Alt Camden wants to use new technology, data and ways of organising to test & learn how communities can take back control of technology, with idea from rooftop planning rights, smart noise contracts, decarbonising our streets to smart convenants or high street caretakers.

  • Create & mobilise people around common causes that relate as much to their everyday lives as to the future, like feeling less lonely or more safer
  • Create a sense of urgency as much as help scale innovation by helping people take part in experiments which make a difference in six weeks through to those that help scale over a longer horizon
  • Use different levers we have and innovate in how we use them, not just as a service provider, but in how we invest, shape places, protect, regulate and campaign

How can you support people to mobilise around missions or common causes?

Public Collaboration Lab

We may want to build coalitions of organisations together to tackle shared challenges, but how about bringing together individuals, whether they’re staff from those organisations, but also residents too?

  • Help people immerse themselves in experiences that give them the confidence and context to take part in more structured activities, like touring an estate to see the lives through the eyes of residents or seeing the stories of innovators or walking past a Think & Do space to drop in
  • Provide stepping stones for people to think & work differently so they can develop skills and take them back to their teams, organisations and communities — from testing tools like a Library of Things to developing projects to learning how to facilitate and coach like @enrolyourself
  • Building on existing tools that your organisation has developed and adapting them to different contexts, be it family group conferencing to other life situations
  • Create opportunities that have the greatest impact on the issue but also on the person, like on an issue where there’s a need to respond quickly, in a neighbourhood or even estate where there’s a concerted effort to tackle issues or for a team that want to work differently, like Bologna’s Office of Civic Imagination
  • Develop skills and test ways that surface innovation in different ways, not just default to design methods, but using others like role play, predictive modelling or visualisation, like Policy Lab
  • Develop your team’s capability to host & facilitate and attract organisations to invest and partner, like Public Collaboration Lab




Head of Policy Design, Scrutiny & Partnerships @newhamlondon #localgov Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese