I came across this thing: http://www.localinnovation.idea.gov.uk/idk/core/page.do?pageId=22580780 (nice URL, huh?) via @CovalentCPM which is about how councils can start to section off services into social enterprises. I think I’ve posted about this before but suffice to say I’m broadly in favour of This Sort of Thing, just with a few reservations.
What makes me want to gouge out my eyes when I saw this smug piece of work from the LGiD* is the complete lack of any discernible mention of people. You know, those pesky individuals sometimes called ‘service users’, ‘customers’, ‘citizens’ or (whisper it) ‘individuals’.
I mean, why actually involve people in designing and running the services they might use? what would be the point? how would we be paternalistic and maintain the status quo if we started listening to what people need? That way madness lies. Madness, I tell you.
Look at this hideous slide – the ‘Social Enterprise Milestones Map‘ by Dan Gregory of Local Partnerships. At no point does it mention actual people, or redesigning the service. There is ‘Products and services (inc. development)’ which if we are being generous we might take to encompass the process of understanding people’s needs, forming relationships with them, working with them to determine the shape of the required service and setting up practical working arrangements that allow them to make it happen in partnership with (former) local authority staff.
There is also not a peep about creativity or innovation or risk-taking or the skills that are needed to foster those attributes in a competitive market. There is nothing about thinking or acting like a start-up, nothing about creating new markets and disrupting old ways of doing things, and nothing about resource sharing, time banking, and in-kind trading. Unless of course all this is included in the bullet point ‘Don’t forget the importance of a sound financial model’.
All this dry and slightly patronising report tells me is that if LGiD and CLG have their way the future of public services is no different to what we’ve got today – poorly designed, wasteful and inflexible.
*The organisation formerly known as the IDeA