Archive | January, 2011

citizen and public networks growing

29 Jan

had an interesting week, met with Joe Miler organizer of the NW Citizens Network which has taken off and is now going national. Also with Fran Singer from nsun national survivor and user network which works on a shoe string but is also developing regional hubs,
These like many social networks are filling a gap and are feeling more optimistic than most.

The Design Council is also going regional with CABE and setting up locality labs for innovative projects to use design as a tool for tackling problems such as waste, in more creative ways. The RSA is already active in most regions.

The MBS Guardian first roundtable on northern leadership demonstrated how different leadership traditions continue to play out in Yorkshire and Manchester/northwest.
read report on


New not less bureaucracy – plight of local voluntary organisations

7 Jan

Just spent the afternoon with Alex Whinnom Director of GMCVO  supports the third sector across Manchester. He told me that the sector is struggling with cash-flow problems because local authorities are hard hit and PCTs in meltdown and they cannot give any clear guidance on future contracts . There is government enthusiasm for the role of the sector in supporting volunteers and more innovative personal services and yet, goverment departments ( MOJ, the DH and DWP) are bypassing local organisations for the national work programme and other personal services.  Government depts like talking to large national  organisations, and are not even advertising contracts through established networks, each department’s  preferred supplier list is limited to larger national charities and enterprises, that have little local experience or connection.  Those organisations selected to deliver the DWP ‘Work Programme’ across Greater Manchester come from Newcastle, Birmingham and London.

The government’s procurement process has reverted to conventional form, in contrast to many local commissioners who have developed relationships with local organisations, government’s procurement processes completely ignore smaller organisations who are not even informed of  what contracts are available. Expression of interest forms geared to large companies in line with government systems. Neither does sub-contracting solve the problem, those subcontacting to larger businesses such as 2Ae to deliver personal services for NEEPs, offenders etc report thet the contract conditions and timescales remove the ability of any local organisation to remain responsive complex needs or work at a pace of change that is realistic. This is so frustrating for those who thought saw the localism agenda as opportunity for  local social innovatorsorganisations. Until government transforms its own processes and ways of relating to smaller and medium organisations ( SMEs, Third sector and social enterprise) then they are unlikely to capture social or public service innovation.

It would appear that the government is its intelligence about the value of existing innovation relationships or about the negative impact that their own practices have on the local capacity to develop the ‘Big Society’.  By April many local organisations will have closed – one group deposited their books on GMCVO’s reception desk out of sheer frustration, saying they were giving up – they organised volunteers on a large estate.

Why is the Coalition government undermining the relationships that have been built up between local authorities, the PCTs and NOMs and local voluntary organisations? – many of which  have been inventing their own way of going to scale through local consortia ?

This is non-sensical and merely yet again reinforces a new centralism – rather than localism…………………..


Latest off the press on Associative Democracy and local leadership see  a book Andrea Westall has produced in break neck speed after roundtable in November on creating the conditions for local democracy stimulated by the work of  Paul Hirst on Associative Democracy and Mary P Follett on the role of local social organisations in making locol democracy alive and real.

More than chat between friends – the public value network

5 Jan

The lack of communication and authentic relationships has blocked innovation in institutions for many years, but mass communication on Facebook is not exactly a radical alternative – even if it does connect people across the globe through good holiday pics.  There is a need to distinguish social activities that are anchored in social objectives and those that are pleasent but with little social purpose.

The Public Value Network  and  its Baker’s Dozen ( see below) outline principles for adding public value through sustained and anchored relationships that envigorate because of shared social beliefs rather than just personal promotion.

A Baker’s Dozen Principles of Value Networks
To help guide network strategies
The true shape and nature of collaboration is not the social network – it is the value network. Value networks are purposeful groups of people who come together in designated roles to take action or produce an outcome. Only through the power of value networks can we address our complex issues – together – and create a more hopeful future.Here are a Baker’s Dozen principles to guide value network strategies.1.   The natural pattern for creating value through collaboration is a network pattern. Exchanges of knowledge and ideas open the innovation pathways for creating new kinds of value.2.   The emergent purpose of a network is revealed through the pattern of roles and exchanges within the network. Sometimes the “espoused” purpose of a network is at odds with what it really produces.

3.   You cannot administer a network – you can only serve it through the roles you play. Network strategies fail when people try to run a network like a hierarchy.

4.   People – not processes – are the active agents. Only people can make decisions and initiate actions, in organizations, and in networks.

5.   Every business process has a hidden network pattern of human interactions. Traditional work design approaches ignore the critical human interactions that build relationships and make the processes work.

6.   Sustainability of a network depends on how highly people perceive the value of participating. People “vote with their feet” and abandon networks where they feel they do not receive value.

7.   The primary mechanism for creating social and economic good is the network. Yet, our traditional units of analysis for production are the firm, the industry, or the nation-state.

8.   The molecular level of value creation is the exchange. Value is not limited to financial value – any exchange of goods or value puts us solidly in the realm of economics.

9.   Every interaction in a network is an opportunity to create value or build relationship. Network interactions have intangible value even when financial transactions are not involved.

10. All value is subjective and contextual – even financial value. Value is an emergent property of social systems.

11. The dynamics of value in a network are dependent upon network effects. One cannot determine the value of the network by simply adding up all the roles and their outputs.

12. The success of an enterprise depends on how efficiently it can convert one form of value to another. As individuals and firms we must be able to convert our material and intangible assets into more negotiable forms of value.

13. Patterns of human interactions and intangibles are leading indicators for success. Network patterns can show work processes at risk and show how companies build strategic capability for the future.

Topic Tags:  collaboration, network pattern, network strategy, social network, value network