“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

Hidden Insights featured in two key conferences!

Thanks to NHS Elect and South East Employers for spreading the word about Hidden Insights.

NHS Elect, which is itself part of the NHS,  supports more than 50 trusts across the county to improve their services and develop their people.  We are speaking and running a workshop at their annual members’ conference at the Central Hall, Westminster, on 13th November.  This is to show how Hidden Insights gives a new lens for change leaders, offering a different way to get patients taking responsibility for their own health, and to create collaborative relationships, engagement and behaviour change across organisational silos and between patients and professionals. Continue reading

Improving Performance – A story from our Director of Relaxation

cat

Is improving performance just too hard?  And expensive?

Be more cat…..

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PD user group endorses social value of positive deviance!

For the first time, representatives of nearly all the UK users of positive deviance met together in Westminster for a round-table debate on the value of positive deviance, and learning points from the exercises so far to carry forward into future projects.

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Indonesian positive deviance link to Woodward Lewis!

Whilst doing some research on what is going on in the world of Positive Deviance, we were really delighted to find that some of our blog posts have been reproduced on the website of the Positive Deviance Resource Centre, Faculty of  Public Health of the University of Indonesia.

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Complexity, positive deviance and pecha-kucha in Paris

Attended another great meeting of the Change Leaders, the alumni group of the Coaching and Consulting for Change programme of Oxford University and HEC Paris.  The group is growing, cohort by cohort, and we are getting world-leading speakers.  In this case, we had the privilege of Margaret Wheatley‘s presence for a whole day, in which she updated us on her latest thinking about complexity.

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Keynote speaker slot in European Organisational Design Conference – Frankfurt, 11th and 12th Nov

Frankfurt conf flyer Jane Lewis is  delighted to have been asked to be a keynote speaker at the inaugural caucus of the European Organisation Design Forum, in Frankfurt.  The theme of the conference is “building and designing new forms of networked organisations”.  The organisers have recognised that positive deviance is a great tool for creating and reinforcing networks in organisations, with a practical means of delivering results.

Jane will be joining speakers Professor George Romme, Professor of Entrepreneurship & Innovation and Dean of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences at Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) and Professor Andrew Campbell, the Director of the Ashridge Strategic Management Centre.

Home Office pilot group members endorse Positive Deviance!

We had a great meeting of the Home Office community coaching pilot group members on Wednesday 7th September.  We asked them what key messages had emerged for them so far.

Comments include:  “valuing the journey as much as the end result”;  “it celebrates our communities making a difference rather than where we have gone wrong”;  “it builds a support network and friendships”;  “We’ve moved from being service users to service providers”;  “we don’t have to be experts to make a difference”.

We will be posting the actual scanned feedback in our resources section, and a photo of the group shortly.

All three groups are seeking funding to extend and expand the work they are doing.

Positive deviance as a tool for calming riot-torn communities?

We have had interest from several people about the potential use of postive deviance and community coaching as a way of helping communities move forward after the recent riots and looting.

Our thoughts are set out in today’s post in the influential politics.co.uk blog. Click on this link to see the full article,”Those who didn’t riot tell us more than those who did”.