Last week I met up up with Linda Quinn, the director of communications and marketing at Big Lottery Fund, for the interview that I mentioned earlier about development of People Powered Change.
It turned out to be quite a long conversation, rather than a simple question and answer session, with Linda prepared to explore publicly how things could evolve. That’s very much in the spirit of the social reporting John Popham, Drew Mackie and I are engaged in.
Here’s the main part of our chat. I’ve pulled out below some of the ideas we developed, expanded a few based on other discussions, and checked with Linda that I’m in tune with her thinking.
I hope this note, with the video, gives us some strong story lines around social innovation at several levels.
The overall theme was how to use open sharing and collaboration in order to promote and support people-led change with this conversation setting an open style.
This might be achieved by BIG using its convening power as well as its funds; releasing more of the potential of its partnership with other agencies; helping groups learn from each other; supporting the use and development of social media, including mobile phone apps.
As Linda says in the interview, there are some formal processes to go through in BIG – so at the moment this is really thinking out loud.
I started by quoting the People Powered Change web site: “In 2011 and beyond BIG will use its size, reach, knowledge, networks and credibility as a platform to champion new approaches to People Powered Change. Working alongside communities, partners and government we have the potential to support community-led action”. Further background is on the ppchange site, and in earlier posts on this blog.
Here’s some of the new story lines and explorations as I see them:
How can BIG use its influence and convening power – as well as funding – for social innovation?
- BIG can work with its partners in ppchange to develop new ways of working, drawn from their experience. Working together creatively can yield more than the separate, funded programmes. How can we catalyse that?
- There are thousands of grant proposals being processed by BIG at any one time, with many innovative ideas. How could these be shared?
- Many groups don’t know about Lottery funding, but marketing budgets are limited. We should use a mix of media and methods, and the power of networks, to reach them and offer the opportunity. What successful examples can we build on?
- The people who invest their pounds in the Lottery could be a channel for telling groups that they know about funding opportunities. Is that feasible?
How can we help groups who already get funding – and those who might be funded – share their ideas and experience? Linda believes it is important that groups have the capability to tell their own stories.
- The Media Trust will do some of that through its news hubs. How will that work in practice, and link with other approaches?
- The network of hyperlocal bloggers and community media enthusiasts developing around the country could support local groups. We should explore that.
How can we release the creativity of the many people working in this field, both nationally and locally?
- First of all by doing some mapping of who is doing what
- Then open ourselves up for ideas and a process to co-design ways forward. That will start with ppchange partners, but might expand early next year with an online space as well as events.
We also talked about the way that social media – including mobile phone apps – could be used by groups to involve more people in their neighbourhood, for example by reporting problems and finding routes to action.
In practice, the next steps for John, Drew and I will be to do some mapping of who’s who in the field, guided by the framework I’ve outlined above, and then get together with staff from BIG and partner agencies to extend our reporting work.
Overall the interview – and other conversations with BIG staff – left me feeling that what we need is a group of social innovation reporters. That is, we are not just reporting events, local action, and programme announcements – but trying to move things forward by following up some of the story lines above.
Not so much: “what’s happening?” but “why can’t we give that a try?” That will involve spotting good ideas, making introductions by closing some triangles, and convening some workshops as all as writing openly about our explorations. We should also talk to others who are specialists in open innovation processes. Fortunately that’s a speciality of NESTA, one of the ppchange partners, so I’m hoping for some help there.