“Ownership not buy in” key to long-term success of local project

Hidden Insights, and its “parent”, Positive Deviance, is all about helping people to help themselves by sharing what works. We have been surprised how difficult professionals find it to facilitate communities to do this, and let go of the “fixing” or “rescuing” mindset.  Kerrie Tonks  added the skills learned from her Hidden Insights training to a career in youth work.  By finding helpers and asking what really worked, she was able to nurture the development of a community-based project that has proved highly successful and very resilient, the Huntingdon Grub Hub.

Community members mobilised themselves to solve the problem of fracturing families.  Recently Huntingdon Town Council noted its success, particularly how it has grown, offering new activities, impacting the whole estate of 4,000 people.  They recognised the enthusiasm, commitment and the dedication of its volunteers.
(photo courtesy of Kerrie Tonks)

Because the Grub Hub was designed to mirror what worked locally by the community members, it’s survived changes of local authority sponsors, and austerity.  Each session has been full from its launch five years ago –  because it’s the community’s.  It has thrived, and grown offshoots and collaborations, including Catch a Cuppa and Book Nook.  These now reach over 100 people a week, parents, carers and children, and have “made a significant positive impact” on the deprived estate, according to the local Council minutes.

Kerrie ensured that she had “ownership not buy-in”.  She used the facilitation techniques she had learned so that the community group:

  • Defined the problem they wanted to tackle and framed it in their own terms
  • Named the initiative (and its offshoots), set their own rules and guidelines
  • Negotiated a mutually supportive relationships with agencies and other community and faith groups, so they weren’t “sold fixes and solutions”
  • They focused on growing what already worked, then and there – the families that ate together and talked stayed together and were more likely to be better community members
  • They designed how they helped people and the communications with the community
  • They listened and continued to harvest and grow good ideas and things that work
Kerrie helped to set up Huntingdon Community Action Projects, which is now the official governing body.  The initiative is low cost, and self-funding, with help from local businesses and the town council.  They continue to support the community in a community-centred way.  The solutions may well be what community developers and volunteer organisations already know.  What is different is:
  • the community discovery and definition process to recognise, get consensus and ownership of an issue
  • the chance to build personal connections and create something based on what is known to work on that particular estate
  • starting smaller, focusing on the “how to” – finding existing, practical solutions to one aspect of a wider problem
  • renegotiating relationships with authority and local support agencies
  • “acting their way into a new way of thinking”

Tracey Holliday, the Cambridgeshire Community Development Officer who now looks after HCAP, says that there is nothing else like it in Cambridgeshire.  People feel safe there to discuss difficult issues, and services do not dominate the activities, but are there to help when asked.  Five autistic children feel comfortable to attend.  HCAP enables the community and agencies to work together as equals, and so what happens there meets exactly the needs of the community.

The training that supported its development focused on:

  • Not making assumptions, and learning to listen to what people wanted and needed, challenging where necessary, using evidence and stories
  • Seeing things through others’s eyes
  • Asking the right questions and observing, to find what really worked in that particular context, with those particular people – finding the hidden solutions and wisdom already in the community

Recognition for Sussex Youth Emotional Support

Julie Tidbury, of West Sussex County Council, used Hidden Insights principles in setting up the new Youth Emotional Support Service (YES) back in 2013. 

She said that the focus on HOW services should work, and the importance of detail, was invaluable.  Also, the training shifted her viewpoint,  seeing things from the perspective of the young person, not the professional.  She used the training activities with her team so that they understood.  After local pilots in her area, the new service design got £3m funding from the local CCG.  It has been a success county-wide, with over 2,500 referrals annually.

The Youth Emotional Support (YES) team was nominated as a finalist in December’s Children and Young People Now awards, which celebrate the achievements of professionals who work with children and young people around the country.  It was runner-up in the mental health and well-being category.

The Hidden Insights training focuses on:

  • Seeing through the eyes of people with the issue
  • Listening, sharing and questioning to get consensus around the issues, and to discover existing solutions
  • Building on what people can already do, working together for mutual support

The detail of what works is really important – in the case of one young person, the fact that their youth worker bought them hot chocolate, with chocolate sprinkles, and met in neutral place built rapport and trust.  This kind of detail was fed into the design of YES.

Read more at: https://www.worthingherald.co.uk/news/health/west-sussex-youth-mental-health-support-team-nominated-for-national-award-1-8745022

Watch Julie talk about her experience here or read and download the case study.

 

Letting go of habit and tradition – constructive rebellion?

Change leaders know that to succeed, they have to enable people to let go of what has been.  This feels scary, and to do this, we sometimes turn to alternative role models.  This can in turn feel really risky for leaders.

In positive deviance, change is created by finding what already works and spreading it.  Harvard Business School professor Francesca Gino thinks of “positive deviants” as successful non-conformists.  Her “aha” moment came when she saw a recipe book that challenged the rules of Italian cooking and asked – “why is it that we always cook that dish in this way?”  The book contained recipes such as “the crunchy part of lasagne” that made more of the best bits! Continue reading

A checklist for engaging people

Many change models, Hidden Insights included, stress the need for engaging people in change early on.  To do this, we need their active co-operation, and involvement, often in focus groups, large-scale events such as Open Space or World Cafe or just in conversations.  But you’ve got to get them to turn up in a positive frame of mind, ideally ready to volunteer to get involved….

Here’s a checklist, based on experience of implementing successful employee and community projects.  Its parent comes from the successful MRSA reduction project in the USA, recorded in the book, Inviting Everyone, Healing Healthcare Through Positive Deviance, by Arvind Singhal, Prucia Bruscell and Curt Lindberg.  We’ve added some learning of our own. Continue reading

Positive peer pressure and positive deviance

Peer pressure is really powerful.  The trouble is, it can be used for good or bad.  We aim to create positive peer pressure to achieve change, but it’s not always easy. Continue reading

Engagement and culture change in Cambridgeshire

We are delighted with the feedback from the learning-by-doing we did over the last year in Cambridgeshire.  People have taken the Hidden Insights concepts of “don’t decide about me, without me” and “acting their way into a new way of thinking” to heart.  They have grown in confidence and created amazing engagement and community action.

You can read more about the Grub Hub in Huntingdon here. Continue reading

Ownership not buy-in – Hidden Insight of the season

People will take personal responsibility for solving a problem,  completing an action and performing better if they own the solution – a key Hidden Insights principle is “ownership not buy-in”.

Hidden Insights® achieves this through its group coaching approach.  Coaching works with anyone, in organisations, families, or communities.  Coaching is reported by the 2015 CIPD employer survey to be the second most effective learning after learning on the job (which is also a part of Hidden Insights). Continue reading

News from Cambridge

We’ve just had a pilot project extended.  Initial funding from the Cambridgeshire Together for Families programme has brought eleven organisations into a learning programme, to use the Hidden Insights approach to reduce “revolving door” tenancies.  The early stages have created a lot of enthusiasm and support has been extended into the autumn.

Projects are now running in Cambridge City and in Wisbech, bringing together a range of housing associations and charities, including Accent, City Homes Cambridge, Making Money Count (Circle Roddans), Luminus, JobCentre Plus, Abbey People and the YMCA. Continue reading

Behaviour change around troubled families – building relationships and resilience

The Department of Communities and Local Government’s Troubled  Families Initiative (TFI) was set up to reduce the significant costs to the taxpayer of a minority of deeply complex families.  The DCLG has calculated that one family can cost between £40,000 to £400,000 a year in reactive interventions. There have been some great achievements in turning families round.  The Initiative is now being extended into phase 2. Continue reading

Simple behaviours within a community have a significant impact: How Positive Deviance is tackling Malaria

We’ve seen Positive Deviance, the approach that Hidden Insights® stems from, achieve some incredible results.  For example, from creating cultural change in the world’s largest Investment Bank, to helping sales performance in a pharmaceutical, to generating a 73 per cent reduction in the transmission of MRSA in over 250 hospitals in a period of months (Pascale Sternin & Sternin 2010).

Continue reading