Category Archives: Behaviour Change

Tackling Inequalities

Since its launch in 2012 Sport Wales has invested £4million of National Lottery funding over two phases of its Calls4Action programme in 21 separate projects.  It has demonstrated exemplar practice through innovative partnerships to achieve participation by hard to reach groups.

Carwyn Young – Sport Wales’s lead officer for Calls4Action provides his personal perspective on the learning that is emerging from UK Research Consultancy Service (RCS) longitudinal evaluation of the programme and what it could mean for Sport Wales and the sector.

I can still recall the conversation in January 2014 that resulted in me being given the task of bringing Phase 2 of Calls4Action to fruition.  Armed with the findings of an internal evaluation of Phase 1, an indicative budget commitment of £3million and four Focus areas of:

  • Girls & Young Women
  • People with a disability
  • People from a BME background
  • Young people living in poverty

I quickly established a pan organisational working group, so I wasn’t alone!

So, three years later, with 11 projects supported, two years’ worth of progress reviews and evaluation findings, what learning has emerged?

I’m going to start with some of the “Big Lessons” that RCS have concluded from their most recent findings:

  • It is possible to engage hard to reach groups
  • Engaging these groups entails innovative methods……
    • ….both in terms of governance and partnership…..
    • ….and delivery.
  • Also entails a degree of reputational and financial risk which can be accepted and managed, but which remains……
  • Lessons from C4A can inform Community Sport, public health, and wider well-being objectives

All positive stuff I’d hope you’d agree, so what is the some of the learning behind these “Big Lessons”?

I’m going to revisit the key findings of RCS first Interim Impact report, however I have summarised the key findings into my own words:

Timing and Pace:  In your planning allow time to get to know and engage with the target group before delivery starts.

Predicted Outputs: Be clear in terms of what your project is meant to do and what it can deliver

Participation: Make sure you capture impact on individuals not just the numbers

Governance and Partnerships: Projects are effective when partners combine their areas of expertise.  Be clear in terms of what you want from and can provide to the partnership

Ways of Working: Understanding the person you want to engage with and personalise your messaging/engagement.   Deliver what people want not what we think they need to build confidence and trust.

Demonstrating Value: Make sure you have the processes in place to capture all the impact of the project from the start

Structural change: Be flexible and have the ability to adapt the project as challenges arise

I’d like to think that as you’ve read through these findings you’ve thought, “that’s pretty obvious” however I’d also like you to consider whether your current ways of working always incorporate them? If you do, could you make it even better?

One of my favourite pieces of learning has emerged from the StreetGames ‘Us Girls’ project and it’s what they’ve termed “pre-pre engagement”.  It’s about engaging with the target group to build trust and understanding so that a relationship forms between them and the project before even broaching the subject of them becoming physically active.  From an ‘Us Girls’ perspective, the “pre-pre engagement” took the form of makeup sessions, virtual chat sessions, visits to activities, and the time and effort to do this became a key element of the project.  “Pre-pre engagement”, wasn’t an approach you’d normally associate with a Sport Wales supported project but one that has proved to be essential to successfully engage this group of girls.

To finish I’d like to reiterate one of RCS’ “Big Lessons”, “It is possible to engage hard to reach groups”.  Calls4Action projects have confirmed it’s not easy, however it is very rewarding when you see the impact that the projects are having on people lives.  Here are links to a couple of videos that show what I mean:

Brecon Beacons National Park

‘Us Girls’ Big Sisters

I also want to point out that the climate we currently operate within, is significantly different to that of 2014 when Calls4Action phase 2 was launched.  The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 didn’t even exist!  You could argue that Calls4Action had already started to implement some of the ‘5 Ways of working’.  Implementing the learning into a phase 3 of Calls4Action would be relatively straight forward a bigger challenge is to implement it into what we do on a daily basis and It’s one that I and Sport Wales are up for.

I’m therefore quietly confident that in this ever-changing environment that we find ourselves operating within, we’ve got a lot of things going for us and don’t just take my word for it, read the RCS evaluation reports.

Data – it’s not just boring tables

Louisa Nolan from @DataSciCampus has blogged for us ahead of our data webinar with examples of the exciting possibilities out there coming from new types of data and new analytical tools.  Join us on the 16th to find out more about Why using data effectively enables better decision making.

Data is exciting, and these days, we can extract interesting information not just from tables of survey results or management information (although these are still of course important) but also from large volumes of documents, or from images, or sensor readings. Data science gives us the tools to rapidly analyse these types of data, in ways that would not have been possible even just a few years ago. It is this combination of opportunities: new types of data + new tools to analyse them that is so exciting, because it opens a whole new world of insight!

As a lead data scientist at the Data Science Campus of the Office for National Statistics I get to think about data every day (this is a Good Thing!). We develop and deliver data science projects addressing difficult questions for our public sector customers, we offer advice and training on data science, and we run deep dives, hackathons and workshops with multi-disciplined teams to find solutions to data challenges.

In this blog, I’d like to share a few examples of how we have been using new types of data and applying data science techniques to tackle challenges that aren’t met by more traditional approaches. This is just a selection, so please visit our website, follow us on Twitter, or get in touch if you would like to discuss how we could support you to adopt or adapt these projects, or if you would like to discuss your own data science challenges.

wales on twitter

What are people talking about when they talk about Wales on Twitter? We were posed this question by the National Assembly for Wales, who wanted to understand what people were interested in when they talk about Wales. Our data scientists built a tool for topic analysis of the text of tweets containing #Wales. Topic analysis is a technique which groups text –  in this case Tweets – into related subjects.  For the period we analysed, we found topics on tourism, sport – including rugby, of course, a business exposition in Cardiff, and, somewhat unexpectedly, a topic on Indian street children! This topic was related to the book ‘A Hundred Hands’, published that week by Diane Noble, a Welsh author. The tool can be easily adapted to analyse other hashtags of interest.

urban forest

Mapping the urban forest at street level Using images sampled from Google StreetView, the team has developed an experimental method to map the density of trees and vegetation at 10 metre intervals in English and Welsh towns and cities – this is hyper-local mapping! The team have built a pipeline for processing and analysing the images, which could potentially be used for other types of analysis of StreetView images.

emerging technologies

Analysing the text of patent applications to understand emerging technologies. In this project, large volumes US patent applications have been analysed, to explore whether emerging technology (aka ‘the Next Big Thing!) can be identified from the text. This is a great demonstration of how the power of data science can unlock data. Even 5 years ago, text documents like these patent applications would likely have had to be analysed laboriously by hand. Now, we can rapidly analyse large quantities of text to extract useful information to inform decision-making.

hierarchical groups

Turning free text lists into hierarchical groups. Sometimes, we have short, free text descriptions or lists – perhaps a list of products purchased or transported. To make use of these, we need to somehow group them into similar products, account for spelling mistakes, typos and different abbreviations. This is theoretically possible by hand, but usually prohibitively labour-intensive. This project automates the hierarchical classification. Because the approach is both syntactic (how the word is spelled) and semantic (what the word means), we can group, for example, whisky and vodka together, and correctly assign steel products, steel prod, and steel produtc to the same category. This tool could be adapted for various datasets of free text responses.

I hope that has given you a taster of some of the things we are working on in the Campus, and maybe some ideas or what you might be able to do with your own data. And I hope I have also convinced you that data doesn’t have to be boring!

 

Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog

cwmni bro

Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog is a pioneering development in Wales; a network of successful community enterprises which have come together to co-operate under the banner of one overarching community company.

The company operates in the communities of Blaenau Ffestiniog, Trawsfynydd and Penrhyndeudraeth and nearby villages, which between them have a population of about 8,000 people. Blaenau Ffestiniog was the second largest town in north Wales in 1900 with a population of about 13,000 people, but as the slate industry declined the population had more than halved by the year 2000. Blaenau Ffestiniog is now one of the economically poorest areas in the United Kingdom. Despite the de-industrialisation a cultural legacy survives, upon which an integrated and holistic model of community development is being pioneered by Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog.

There are more social enterprises per head of the population in Bro Ffestiniog than anywhere else in Wales. Thirteen of the area’s social enterprises have come together under the banner of Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog. The members are:

Antur Stiniog     www.anturstiniog.com

Barnardos    www.barnardos.org.uk/cabanbach.htm

Cyfeillion Croesor     www.orielcafficroesoratcnicht.co.uk

CellB/Gwallgofiaid    www.cellb.org

Cwmni Opra Cymru    www.opra.cymru

Deudraeth Cyf.    www.deudraethcyf.org.uk

GISDA    www.gisda.org

Seren    www.seren.org    Gwesty Seren www.gwestyseren.org

Pengwern Cymunedol www.ypengwern.co.uk

Trawsnewid

Y Dref Werdd www.drefwerdd.cymru

Ysgol y Moelwyn/Canolfan Hamdden sg@moelwyn.gwynedd.sch.uk

The diverse activities of these ventures include running two hotels, shops, restaurants, cafes, tourist information centre, leisure centre, arts and crafts workshop, mountain biking centre, retail, horticulture, energy production projects, developing allotments, educational and cultural activities, opera, environmental projects, energy saving promotion, reducing food waste, recycling, river cleaning, work with adults with supplementary needs, youth work including to do with homelessness and teaching environmental and media skills.

The company’s aims are to promote co-operation between the constituent social enterprises, nurture new social enterprises and work with small business enterprises which are anchored in the community. All of this is in order to promote the environmental, economic, social and cultural development of the area.

Between them, Cwmni Bro’s members employ some 150 people. A recent analysis of their economic impact showed that a high percentage of their income comes from trading. Further, this income largely stayed and circulated in the area. For every pound received as a grant or loan, a significant proportion, 98 pence, was spent locally, mainly on wages. Of the 1.5 million pounds spent on wages 53% is retained locally. Nearly half the expenditure on goods and services was local and thus circulated money in the area.

In August 2018, a new venture was launched, BROcast Ffestiniog, a community digital broadcasting service, aimed at facilitating communication between the social enterprises and the community and within the community (See BROcast Ffestiniog-YOUTube and facebook.com/BROcastFfestiniog ).

The integrated and holistic model of community development which Cwmni Bro is pioneering offers a pattern which other communities can emulate. Cwmni Bro resonds positively to invitations to visit other communities to explain what has been achieved in Bro Ffestiniog and to discuss the general potential of this model of community development.

The model presents a challenge to government in Wales; to develop policies and appropriate support in order to facilitate the adoption of this model of community development across Wales.

CONTACT

Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog, 49 Stryd Fawr, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd. LL41 3AG

CwmniBro@CwmniBro.Cymru      07799 353588

It’s good to talk – Universities joining forces to put the Well-being of Future Generations Act into practice

Part of the role of the Good Practice Exchange team is to build relationships with a wide range of organisations and to share some innovative or interesting knowledge. We have been working with the Higher Education Future Generations Group (HEFGG) for a few years now.  They are very keen to work collaboratively with the wider public services and want to share their knowledge they have gained to benefit public services and ultimately the people of Wales.

When the idea of this event emerged it made complete sense for us to work in partnership. Particularly in relation to their approaches of how they are contributing to the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.

To explain a little more about the upcoming event, here’s Dr Einir Young, the chair of the group, sharing her aspiration of the day… 

My name is Einir Young, I’m Director of Sustainability at Bangor University and I also chair Wales’ Higher Education Future Generations Group (HEFGG), representing every HE in Wales[1]. On behalf of the group I’d like to introduce our new joint venture and invite you to get involved. This is the first in a series of blogs leading up to two conferences coming up, one in Bangor in September and another in Cardiff in November – plenty of time and information to decide whether you want in or not.

Having worked together as a group for some time we decided that it was time to put the theories of the WFGA into practice, in particular the five ways of working, asking ourselves the following questions:

  • What is the long term contribution of the group? What’s the point of us meeting every so often, and exchanging our ideas? What happens to those ideas? What can we show for our efforts?
  • Just meeting to tick a box is not a worthwhile activity so how can we prevent inertia and stagnation and make our group relevant?
  • Collaboration is something that we aspire to but too often our institutions are in competition with each other and as someone said ‘collaboration is the suspension of mutual loathing in search of further funding’. That produced a laugh, because we all recognised a grain of truth. How could we then truly collaborate.
  • Integration is another aspiration – integrating what we do rather than pursue our own goals in silos. How could we do better?
  • Involvement is another word that carries a lot of weight but is difficult to achieve. Who should be involved? Who should do what? When? Where?

As we were pondering these questions as a group at the Wales Audit Office’s Behaviour Change Conference in Aberystwyth in April 2017, Yvonne Jones from Swansea University, the last person standing from the secretariat of the original RCE Wales challenged us to revive and revitalise the RCE to reflect our new thinking and the thinking behind the WFGA. And here we are, 18 months later about to re-launch RCE Cymru in its new guise, ready to contribute actively to an international network of more than 160 similar groups who are busy putting global sustainability objectives into a local community context, with an emphasis on the well-being of current and future generations.

The RCE networks have rules of engagement and the two golden rules are that i) an RCE has to be led by a University and ii) it must engage with the wider community. So we have brought together a tiny group of three people to act as a Secretariat to deal with reporting but the rest is fluid and open to suggestions.

Currently we’re developing several circles of interest and are looking for interested participants. So far the following groups have emerged:

  • The circular economy (co-ordinated by Dr Gavin Bunting, Swansea University)
  • Healthy Universities and Colleges (co-ordinated by Chris Deacy, Cardiff Met)
  • Regeneration (co-ordinated by Dr Sheena Carlisle and Tim Palazon, Cardiff Met)
  • Teaching and Learning (co-ordinated by Dr Caroline Hayles, UWTSD)
  • Communication is a cross-cutting theme and is co-ordinated by my team in Bangor.

Other circles are starting to brew:

  • Social Prescribing (co-ordinated by Nina Ruddle, Glyndŵr)
  • Language and Culture (co-ordinators to be confirmed)
  • Sounding boards for the Public Service Boards (Nina Ruddle and Dr Einir Young – in the north of Wales initially)

So to answer our original five questions, this is where we’re at:

Our long term vision is to create a truly collaborative structure (we think the RCE set up will facilitate this) to provide ‘thinking space’ for circles of interest to explore their theme-specific challenges, in their own time and their own way. It is up to each group to decide how they organise themselves and measure success.

The circles of interest will provide a two way dialogue between the core RCE group and the circles generating a constant flow of new ideas and providing opportunities for cross-fertilisation of ideas between the circles. The meetings will be organised as required by the participants thus aiming to avoid ‘meeting fatigue’.

Collaboration has to be based on trust and this is an opportunity to explore, with no strings attached, how the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts. There is no funding to squabble over, there are no targets to dispute. There is no pressure to join and no shame in failing – we are here to learn together.

There are many initiatives associated with all the circles of interest and many attempts to force institutions to work together before the necessary foundation of mutual trust has been built. We hope that the voluntary nature of the RCE Cymru relationships emerging through the HEFGG will facilitate greater integration and sharing of ideas breaking down the protectionist ‘us v them’ barriers.

The good news is that anyone and everyone can be involved if you want to. This is not an exclusive club. The main requirement of involvement is an open mind, a can-do attitude, creative thinking a willingness to take risks (where failing might be an option) and a commitment to have a go.

Watch this space for the forthcoming blogs explaining the aspirations of each of the circles of interest in turn.

I am ready and waiting for comments and feedback to flow like a Tsumani. Let the fun begin!

[1] Originally the group was called the Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship group but morphed into our new form in response to the Welsh Government’s Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015 which became law in April 2016.

About the author:
Einir YoungDr Einir Young is Bangor University’s Director of Sustainability. Her Sustainability Lab team are centrally located in the University’s Department of Planning and Governance reflecting Bangor’s commitment to sustainability and well-being of future generations.

She has extensive experience of collaborating with business and institutions who are disillusioned with a ‘one size fits all’ approach. She relishes the challenge of finding effective solutions to complex ‘sustainability’ issues, focusing on generating prosperity through respecting people and living within the resource boundaries of the planet. In her opinion the days of ‘old power values’ with its top down command and control style are over and welcomes the fluidity and energy offered by ‘new power values’ of crowd-sourcing, radical transparency and trusting people.

In her spare time she is passionate about walking. Current projects include the Wales Coastal Path and the Snowdonia Slate Trail; she recently walked around Malta – every destination is judged by the quality of its walks. Wales wins.

Moving from outputs to outcomes

Mark Jeffs @markjeffs75, from the Wales Audit Office, has blogged for us ahead of our Moving from outputs to outcomes webinar on May 16.  Read on to find out more about what matters, rearranging the deckchairs and evil kittens…

Everybody loves outcomes.  We all want them. Well – we want good ones at least.  So if we all want them, what is the problem with getting them and focusing public services on delivering them?

This blog offers some personal thoughts on these issues ahead of a webinar that the Good Practice Exchange is hosting in May.

The context – why do we need to shift from outputs to outcomes?

It is a complicated story but broadly, the mid 90s onwards saw a growth in the use of targets to manage the performance of public services.  Generally, these targets were set centrally and based on measures of outputs (how much we do) and how quickly we do it.

Since then, there has been something of a backlash. Many critics argued that the targets had ‘perverse incentives’.  That is, they encouraged people to do what was necessary to meet the target rather than do what was necessary to improve the lives of the people using services.  Also known as ‘hitting the target but missing the point’.

Against this backdrop, the last decade has seen increasing calls for a shift towards ‘outcomes’: to focus public services on ensuring they make a real difference for people.

There is a big value for money issue at stake.  Can it be ‘value’ for money if we spend a lot of money delivering outputs that don’t make people’s lives better?  The true ‘value’ of public service ultimately lies in improving people’s lives. With austerity set to continue to define the public service landscape, the shift to a focus on outcomes can help to move our discussions from doing more with less to making more of a difference with less.

The opportunity: really transforming our services based on ‘what matters’

The great opportunity of shifting from ‘outputs’ to ‘outcomes’ is not about measures at all.  It is about changing our thinking and the way we deliver services.  To shift towards a model that starts with people, the lives they lead and the lives they want to lead. In short – real ‘people centred’ services.

There are reasons to be optimistic. The language of ‘what matters to people’ is increasingly common in public service. Not least in the context of Wales’ approach to social services which is based around the notion of personal outcomes and what matters to people.  More broadly, if you look here in Wales at legislation such as the Social Services and Well-being Act and the Well-being of Future Generations Act, alongside a range of policy documents on public service reform, a new vision of more personalised, user-focused public services is emerging. It involves:

  • Rethinking the relationship between frontline staff and service users (co-production) to focus on improving people’s lives
  • Reshaping the relationships between services / departments (real collaboration around people to give holistic support)
  • Developing the management/ leadership thinking to see the role as enabling the learning and change needed to improve lives, rather than monitoring numbers/ performance

The issue of what outcomes to measure is secondary to the underlying behaviour, cultural and systemic shifts implied by this vision.  If we start with understanding what matters, we can then work out how collectively we can organise ourselves (as public services working with individuals and communities) to help people achieve the things that matter to them.  From there, we can identify ‘outcomes’ measures that are rooted in the lived experience of people’s lives, rather than abstract idealised imagined conditions of wellbeing.

That is not to say that this is easy.  There is a big technical challenge around how you measure personal outcomes and make them consistent and meaningful at different levels (service/ organisation/ nation).  By their nature, personal outcomes are . . . personal.  They are different and inconsistent.  I worked on the Auditor General’s Picture of Public Services 2015 report. In that report we flagged the approach developed by the Scottish Joint Improvement Agency: a framework for linking personal outcomes through consistent categories that are tailored to individual circumstances.  The Joint Improvement Agency gives examples of how these can be aggregated through different levels from the individual to national outcomes.

The risk: superficial changes (or rearranging the deckchairs)

There is a risk that public services respond to the pressure to focus on outcomes by doing the bare minimum. The simple way to shift to outcomes is for public sector leaders to replace existing output targets and measures with a new set that uses more ‘outcomey’ language.

There are many reasons to be sceptical about an approach that is essentially the result of a discussion about measurement amongst a relatively small group of senior leaders.  The questions I would pose to those adopting such an approach are:

  • What is the evidence that these are the right outcome measures – how do you know they really reflect the things that matter to service users and to the wider public?
  • What are the links between new measures and the plans to change the real experience of providing and receiving services?

For me, the biggest risk of this approach is that it does not lead to the kinds of changes we need to see.  Instead, we get superficial changes.  The new outcome measures form part of a new ‘strategy’.  There will be a new overarching delivery plan, departmental action plans and underpinning service delivery plans.  Frontline staff may look at all of this paper once (at most) and then get on with the business of providing services much as they always did.

The other big risk is that changing from numerical output targets to numerical outcome targets risks creating the same perverse incentives and behaviours.  Instead of chasing outputs, service providers chase numerical outcomes with unintended consequences. This concern is articulated in Toby Lowe’s ‘kittens are evil’ critique.

The baby and the bathwater

It is essential to emphasise that the shift from outputs to outcomes is one of emphasis.  There should be no sense that output, activity and timeliness measure no longer matter. They do.  They are vital for understanding demand and capacity and planning the delivery of services and systems.  Nobody could argue that we should stop measuring and caring about how many people come into and out of hospitals and how long they wait for treatment.  The issue is how much emphasis we place on these measures and how much they should drive behaviours.

So what are the key messages on shifting from outputs to outcomes:

  • The shift to outcomes is about so much more than measures and indicators – it is a different way of seeing and providing public services that starts with people’s lives and what matters to them in their lives.
  • As well as service delivery, shifting to outcomes means a shift in the role of management as enabling and leading practical changes rather than monitoring numbers and chasing targets.
  • When it comes to measures, the idea of a shift ‘from’ outputs to ‘outcomes’ may miss the point – it is about the right balance of information to understand both what is happening in the system and how well the system is doing at making the lives of people and communities better.