Ideas from our exploration of People Powered Change

We are in the final phase of our exploration, with Big Lottery Fund, about how BIG can become more than a funder – initially under the banner of People Powered Change (PPC). On Thursday December 1 Drew Mackie and I will help run a workshop for BIG in London with some of the people we have met along the way, and those whose ideas we have borrowed. Fellow reporter John Popham will be sharing his insights, and I’ve no doubt doing some more reporting.
You can see here a summary of the blog posts recording conversations and ideas we have picked up about ways that BIG could help the groups that they fund to share ideas and experience, and the context for this. We have included some reports and posts from partners in PPC, and will have more shortly.
As you can see from this initial interview with Linda Quinn, BIG is open to a wide range of possibilities. Here are some we started to explore, prompted by that interview:

  • 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?
  • Improving the reach and understanding of Lottery funding. We should use a mix of media and methods, and the power of networks, to reach people and offer the opportunity. What successful examples can we build on?

At one stage in our work, we wondered if we could use the workshop this week to identify the main elements for a new, distributed People Powered Change learning space. In practice that’s going to be a jump too far. The issues are complex, there are many people in the field who could be part of any solutions we haven’t talked to, and more conversations are needed inside BIG as well as outside.
I sense that this journey may turn out to be more about how BIG operates, than creating a new space or programme called “People Powered Change”. I personally think that could be a more radical outcome. It is relatively easy for funders to invest in new initiatives – while it may be much more innovative and beneficial for them to start operating in open and networky ways. The Connected Citizens report, referenced here by Beth Kanter, provides some pointers.
So I think that the event on Thursday is going to be mainly a means of getting conversations off the screen, where they have mainly happened so far, into the room, and in the process starting to build some new relationships. After a presentation from BIG, and a Q and A session, we’ll be exploring ways for BIG and others to take forward the exploration we have started here. We’ll pitch up some ideas, invite others to come up with their own, form groups, and get creative. We have a few spare places, so if you feel you could contribute on the day, do contact Laura Lacey and explain what you might offer.
Here’s some suggestions for BIG and partners that have emerged from our exploration. They provide a backcloth for the workshop, and some might be developed on the day.

  1. Map the different models of people powered change – and then looked at who is active within these different “tribes”. We need to understand the context people and projects are working within before trying to share ideas
  2. Map where the current BIG partners are running pilots and use that as one basis for network building and sharing (this is already underway)
  3. Review the other investments that BIG has made – including the Knowledge Portal – to see how these can help. That would take the Asset Based Community Development approach BIG supports to a strategic level. Build on your strengths, as Cormac Russell explains
  4. Look at the way other funders operate to promote an asset-based approach. Cormac Russell suggests the Kellogg Foundation, in the interview here
  5. Explore the idea of a social app store, given new impetus at the Kent Connects event last week and piloted in Milton Keynes
  6. Trust people to tell their own stories, by supporting hyperlocal activities, as suggested by Will Perrin
  7. Help BIG staff become social reporters in their own right, picking up the work we have started here. That would help on two fronts: getting knowledge from inside BIG outside, and vice versa, and helping build networks. Focus on events to do that, as Tom Phillips suggests here
  8. Link the practice of social reporting with development of the Media Trust Newsnet, as I explored here with Adam Perry Maybe we need a social reporter network for people in organisations, as well as those working in local communities
  9. Start using Yammer to promote internal conversations, and to connect with others. Another good idea from Tom Phillips
  10. Explore how to help groups meet each others – as Richard Edwards proposed here
  11. Encourage local councils and organisations to stitch together the various programmes that BIG support – as we discussed in Dudley
  12. If you want to build a network, with some strong underlying principles and values, using a mix of media, look at Transition Network for ideas

All these are the sort of ideas that might end up, in private, in a consultancy report if we were undertaking a conventional study. I’ve been enormously impressed that BIG are prepared to support this exploration in public – modelling the sort of open sharing approach that could fill out the initial vision of People Powered Change.
It’s a small start in the sort of ideas crowdsourcing that I hope may be continued by BIG and others. Maybe now is the time for an Open Innovation Exchange, as a few of us proposed back in 2007
What happens after our workshop? In part, I expect we’ll decide that on the day. However, I do know that a report will be written early in the New Year to get support from committee members, there is talk of piloting, and I hope it will be possible for BIG staff to continue the work that we have started.
Meanwhile, do please pitch in your own ideas, either as a comment below, or by contacting us here.

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