Last month officers from Dudley Council met with people from local voluntary organisations and community groups. The aim of the session was to begin shaping a plan for joint delivery of the Community Council vision, building on work the council have been doing to date. Council officers shared the poster below (available here as a pdf) which articulates the council’s vision. Discussion focused on opportunities which could be included in a plan for the next year.
Following the planning activity, we were invited to share thoughts and ideas on steps to achieve the changes listed on the right hand side of the poster:
- The council changing how they do things: designing and delivering services with people, reducing red tape, having honest conversations
- The council knowing local communities: understanding community strengths as well as needs, and making decisions by listening and talking to people
- The council changing their culture: recognising that communities can lead, being open, honest and approachable, and supporting their staff to embrace change
- The council working differently in communities: starting with what’s good in communities, enabling communities to make things happen, facilitate rather than control.
We will, of course, share notes and the plan developed from the session on this blog. We’ll also be looking for ideas, inspiration and learning from other places. Such as Dublin.
Two years ago Dublin City Council launched DCC Beta projects, described by Innovation Dublin as:
… a new approach by Dublin City Council to experiment, innovate and quickly test ideas directly ‘on the street’… and to solicit the opinion of Dubliners who walk, cycle or drive around these streets everyday.
The Council is suggesting it as a new way of trialling ideas, away from the realities or pressures of a ‘real’ project. The trials could last days, weeks or months, but generally wouldn’t be longer than a year or so.
While Dublin City Council ‘trials’ ideas all the time, it’s generally as part of a real project (for example the LED lights in Smithfield). The difference between a ‘trial’ and a ‘beta’ is what the Council call ‘the headache-factor’. If something has to be changed in a beta project it generally wouldn’t (read shouldn’t) cause a problem, whereas in a trial it probably would.
Dublin City Council describe what being in ‘beta’ means on the DCC Beta blog:
Dublin City and Dublin City Council needs to be able to easily and regularly freely discuss ideas and to innovate – and to innovate you need to be able to experiment and to then learn from those experiments, and which in turn enables greater discussion.
We’re calling this overall ethos or approach ‘Dublin City Council beta’.
“Beta” and “in beta” are labels used (mainly by the IT sector) to convey that something’s imperfect and is being released early so that it can benefit from some real-world testing and feedback. We adopted this phrase as it enables us to build ‘a brand’ (ie a recognisable ethos) with an associated and established method, whereas a generic phrase such as “trial” might mean different things to different people.
What do you think about Dublin’s initiative? What are your thoughts on Dudley’s Community Council vision? Leave us a comment here, on our Facebook Page or on twitter.