We may be pioneers, innovators, experimenters, creatives, change-makers, leaders, and decision-makers, but, we are who we are through and by others. We need each other.
This isn’t a novel revelation, rather one that many have embraced around the world for centuries. It’s at the core of my Cuban-hispanic roots and continues to orient many cultures across the globe. For example, the Ubuntu philosophy that permeates much of South African culture is often translated as the belief that “I am because we are”; viewing ‘people less as individuals than as part of an infinitely complex web of other humans’.
Now, if you need me to ground this in government innovation speak rather than philosophy, Steven Johnson’s research for Where Good Ideas Come From found that:
It is in the nature of good ideas to stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before them, which means that by some measure, every important innovation is fundamentally a network affair (page 221).
Or just listen to this podcast on how the idea of inventors and the Nobel Prize going to individuals is misleading.
The reality is that change is lonely, change is difficult, change is uncomfortable, but change is a fact of life that can be easier if we build communities and networks that support each other. Networks need to have no bounds. That is why we are calling you to join us in Cardiff on March 23rd for an event we are hosting called Public Service Pioneers: tools for change and how to use them.
We can always learn from others and their approaches even though our context is different. To this end, March 23rd is about meaningful exchange. It is about trying to do things differently so the microphone doesn’t remain only in the hands of our keynotes and facilitators, but is distributed amongst the various forms of expertise in the room. The event will put people, organisations, funders and ambitions into dialogue with a deeply rooted belief that we all strive to do better for the places and the communities where we work.
When we began this journey about a year ago and challenged ourselves to craft a day that would appeal to academics, practitioners, and the public as well as their sectors. Easy right?
Before designing the event and inviting speakers, we listened and developed a core mission and principles for the day:
At its core, our mission is to use Public Service Pioneers to provide public workers with a supportive space to share new tools, conversations and connections that inspire action and positive change.
During our pre-design conversations we heard from people working with or in public services needing hope and deliberate space for rehearsal, connection, and support.
And what’s a mission without guiding principles? Principles are core values that help steer and keep intentions on track and ours were to:
- Consciously craft an event that is inclusive of different communication styles, levels of experience and methods for approaching the difficult work we all do.
- Take good care of our participants before during and after the event to support the creation of meaningful connections, the spirit of learning and experimentation, and feelings of empowerment.
- Embody and enact the belief that good ideas can come from anywhere.
- Be biased towards meaningful action.
So, we’re asking you to hold us to account. But most of all, come with an open-mind and ambition to expand your ideas of what’s possible. The day will feature inspiring transformation talks by keynotes who have harnessed the power of “community” to change their places for good. Facilitated sessions where you will learn about exciting new, applied ideas in public services and how they can inform your work in the morning, and in the afternoon, sessions will centre on equipping you with new tools for approaching your work differently and working in a collaborative, cross-sector way.
We've even composed a letter for you to justify your attendance to your boss! (Welsh is available upon request.
Funders will also be with us over the lunch hour and throughout the day so you can think about what next steps and pathways may be best for your ambitions. They won’t all hail from academia, rather, we have asked them to come speak about how they are enabling cross-sector partnerships.
We hope this post makes you as excited as we are by what may emerge. Please come join us or send along someone in your organisation who you think would be inspired by those in the room and help us to embody and enact the ethos of Ubuntu in public services. We, and the communities we serve need it.
Curious for more?
Morning facilitated sessions will be guided by:
- The Centre for Public Impact and the Social Care Institute for Excellence - on their new Blueprint for social care focusing on putting values at the heart
- Platfform - a Wales-based organisation on systems change as a way of being
- Dr Toby Lowe - on complexity, public management, and system stewardship for healthier systems with positive social outcomes
Afternoon sessions will be facilitated by:
- Nesta's Innovation Skills team with national and International expertise
- Y Lab on Problem Framing for better, more complexity conscious public problem solving
- Policy Lab - a leading intra-preneuer with a portfolio of projects to inspire you