How Can We Move From Demand Led Service In The ‘New Normal’?


In the early hours of Good Friday I found myself undergoing emergency surgery after a complication during an earlier test. Even in the midst of some pretty intense pain I was unwilling to go to hospital – a mixture of fear of contracting a certain virus and some overly optimistic thinking about my super human … Continue reading How Can We Move From Demand Led Service In The ‘New Normal’?

Moving From The Reactive To The Pre-Emptive


As Matthew Manos has written, many of us in the social sector are employed in the expectation that the things that go wrong will always go wrong.  Indeed, our work often profits from past societal failure rather than the contemplation of the signals of failures that have yet to exist. The entire premise relies on … Continue reading Moving From The Reactive To The Pre-Emptive

The Problem With Seeing People As Vulnerable


Never mistake your Twitter feed for your country — Nick Cohen (@NickCohen4) December 12, 2019 Now, more than ever, it’s easier to exist within a bubble. We spend a lot more time communicating through screens than talking face to face. Our digital social networks are powered by algorithms designed to feed us information confirming what … Continue reading The Problem With Seeing People As Vulnerable

How To Keep Focussed (And Remain Sane) In A World Of Complex Problems


In our heart, we know the solution does not lie in reforming silo by silo but in organizing our silos the way people organize their lives, so that the neighbourhood becomes our primary unit of analysis and change – Cormac Russell I’ve spent two days this week with both the Connected Places Catapult in London … Continue reading How To Keep Focussed (And Remain Sane) In A World Of Complex Problems

If We Don’t Develop Different Relationships, We’ll Lose Our Legitimacy


If we do not respond to people and communities’ desire for power, we will lose our legitimacy and waste the potential of the many ways they can have agency over what matters to them. If we do not continually, bravely work to build trust, we will lose the essential foundation for everything we do. – Civil … Continue reading If We Don’t Develop Different Relationships, We’ll Lose Our Legitimacy

Why Do We Have Such A Problem With Poor People?


It’s an uncomfortable truth that many of us working in the social sector share exactly the same prejudices about poor people as everybody else. Recognising this is the first step to tackling any stigma  I was recently asked to write a piece on the stigma of social housing. (TLDR: I maintain that the ‘stigma’ is not … Continue reading Why Do We Have Such A Problem With Poor People?

Communities Need A Different Model – And That Might Not Include Us


Last week I was in Sulawesi, Indonesia, a place none of my family had ever heard of – until a devastating quake and tsunami hit Palu, at which point my phone sprang to life with loads of messages checking that I was still alive. Actually, we were 300 miles away at that point, and in … Continue reading Communities Need A Different Model – And That Might Not Include Us

The Problem With Professionals


Social progress is about the expansion of freedom, not the growth of services – Cormac Russell Our digital networks, Twitter, in particular, are unparalleled listening tools. I follow thousands of accounts, many organised into lists so I can get a sense of what’s going on in innovation, technology, health, housing – and the social sector generally. … Continue reading The Problem With Professionals

Reshaping Organisations Around What’s Strong – Not What’s Wrong


“ECONOMICS ARE THE METHOD: THE OBJECT IS TO CHANGE THE SOUL” This (pretty chilling) quote comes from Margaret Thatcher in 1981 – and ushered in an era that promoted the belief that social progress is achieved through the accumulation of wealth or status. Earn more, consume more, and you’ll be happy.  The legacy of this is … Continue reading Reshaping Organisations Around What’s Strong – Not What’s Wrong

How To Design For Better Outcomes


Our job is to the mind the gap between the bureaucracy of our systems and the opportunities in our communities – Cormac Russell Sometimes it’s preferable to pull the plug on a service before you see it collapse in front of your eyes. A recent report says we are trapped in a reactive spending cycle on public … Continue reading How To Design For Better Outcomes

How Not To Solve The Health, Housing and Care Crisis


Crisis (noun) ‘a time of intense difficulty, trouble, or danger’. ‘a time when a difficult or important decision must be made.’ The housing crisis can no longer be ignored. Neither it appears can the crisis in health. And nor can the social care, or ageing crisis. Our repeated use of the word crisis is telling and … Continue reading How Not To Solve The Health, Housing and Care Crisis

How Much Good Does Your Organisation Really Achieve?


We don’t usually think of achievements in terms of what would have happened otherwise, but we should. What matters is not who does good but whether good is done.” ― William MacAskill, Doing Good Better We all love an uplifting story of a simple innovation that solves a tricky social problem. Anyone who’s been to … Continue reading How Much Good Does Your Organisation Really Achieve?

How Do We Know Our Organisations Are Really Succeeding?


Every day, organisations promise to make the world a better place. How do we know they are really succeeding? The National Health Service we are told is the world’s best healthcare system.  Yet the NHS has a poor record on one fairly important indicator – actually keeping people alive. We often hear that housing associations prevent homelessness , but … Continue reading How Do We Know Our Organisations Are Really Succeeding?

Is Your Organisation Making The Impossible Possible?


2016 was the year the social media bubble burst. The year we woke up to the fact that – despite what Twitter and Facebook tell us – a lot of people think exactly the opposite to what we do. It was us, not them, who were in a bubble. I spent New Year travelling – … Continue reading Is Your Organisation Making The Impossible Possible?

Moving Away From The Reactive Organisation


Our job is to the mind the gap between the bureaucracy of our systems and the opportunities in our communities – Cormac Russell The first step is realisation. Accepting that most of us in the social sector are employed because of failure. As Matthew Manos has written – it’s a field of business that profits … Continue reading Moving Away From The Reactive Organisation

How Organisations May Stifle Community Creativity


One of the many challenges for the public sector is that it must start believing in people and communities again. We know that many organisations are out of sync with technology , but there’s an argument that they are increasingly distant from an economy where sharing and collaboration trump paternalism and top down protocols. One of the … Continue reading How Organisations May Stifle Community Creativity

How Connected Citizens Are Mobilising Social Movements


This post is long overdue and has been sitting in my “must edit” file for a couple of months. The prompt to finish it has come from events in the past few days where online campaigns and watershed moments in the media (traditional and social) have again found our politicians wanting.  In June I was on … Continue reading How Connected Citizens Are Mobilising Social Movements

Our Next Innovation Challenge: Stop Talking To Ourselves


“Wicked problems”—ranging from malaria to dwindling water supplies—are being reframed as “wicked opportunities” and tackled by networks of non-governmental organisations, social entrepreneurs, governments, and big businesses. The challenge is connecting the players and closing the gaps. – William Eggars Global Public Sector Research Director at Deloitte, speaking at Lab Works 2015 I had one huge takeaway … Continue reading Our Next Innovation Challenge: Stop Talking To Ourselves

It’s Time for Us to Unleash the Hidden Power in Communities


“It’s so tempting for those of us who provide services….support workers, housing providers, social workers, community workers, health visitors, GPs…to see ourselves as the ones with the gifts. The ones with the solutions. The superheroes ready to fly in and save people.  Maybe there is already a superhero living on their street”  – John Wade  … Continue reading It’s Time for Us to Unleash the Hidden Power in Communities

We need more people solving problems – not professionals.


Everyone has a story to tell, everyone has strengths beneath the conceptions that you have of them. But if you’re curious enough, you may just find that the answers you’ve always been looking for are there, often right beside you. – William Lilley Everywhere you look at the beginning of 2015 you will see a crisis. … Continue reading We need more people solving problems – not professionals.