Archive | July, 2010

The Big Society – where are the women?

28 Jul

Like many of us who have been organising social enterprise and setting up more collaborative organisations for many years, the Big Society is a bit difficult to take – but it does at least focus minds on the fact that is people, who make a difference and who innovate, not governments. Social innovation flows between people who are open to it. David Miliband has admitted that BS is a good idea and something Labours should recognize, this attracts me to him as as future Labour Leader.The concept remains vague but is clearly based on a long history of community and liberatarian left organising,

The lack of political conversation about whether we have the capability to transform society, move from state services to social enterprise, forge a completely new way of devolving government,  is not to say that the ambition of localism is wrong,  more that it is naive to assume, as did the former government – that society changes with the magic wand of central government diktat. It doesn’t.

So why is there so little conversation about the how to develop more congenial communities ?  The answer lies in the fact that practice is of little interest to policy-makers, because it is the domain of women. Women across the world struggling to work collectively in businesses, community organsisations or on the public sector front-line in almost all personal services. It is women who have value partnership, seek collaboration, make adjustments and think about the common good and yet, still there is no mention in any political statements about the role that women play in making these a reality. Of course this is not the whole truth and that many men are engaged in practice – but a quick audit of who are brokering relationships when not paid, working to find a common solution, go the extra mile when it runs counter to their own promotion prospects, it is women.

If women are not given  a determining and leadership role in the extremely difficult job of developing the trust and relationships necessary for social innovation  among those experiencing the pain of dramatic cuts – then the Big Society is a non starter.


Can the Coalition Government deliver radical service innovation?

13 Jul


The Coalition Government wants public service innovation, but underestimate how far capabilities among staff have to change before these are feasible in mainstream provision and how far dramatic cuts will undermine the trust needed to implement them.  Ministers appear well aware of the shortcomings of existing services. It was heartening to hear  Ken Clarke, Minister for Justice demand more innovative, non-custodial solutions for minor offences. The recovery approach in mental health which is based on respect, hope and opportunity could be applied to ‘offender’ services and if implemented properly could lead to dramatic savings.  Creating a space for those on the margins to hope, to learn to change and gain personal confidence is what innovative personalized services  are about. The challenge for the coalition government to be able to nurture imaginative service innovations at a time of dramatic financial cutbacks:  this means recognizing that not all innovation is the same.  Continue reading

Innovation and savings

12 Jul

A distinctive approach to public service innovation

by Su Maddock and Robin Hambleton

 Our approach is to work alongside strategic leaders to create opportunities for transformative, place-based innovation.

 The conventional wisdom now guiding current public service reform efforts, particularly since the Budget plans announced on 22 June 2010, is that public service leaders should ‘do more with less’.  Leaders of public services across the country are being urged to find ways of reducing public spending.  In this difficult environment there is a risk that thinking in central government, local government and in public agencies will become dominated by cutback management.  This would be to miss an opportunity.

  Continue reading