Tag Archives: Cynefin

Housing Festival: Fishbowls, failure and complexity

A presentation at Housing Festival, which was held in the Depot, an adaptable space for creative events

Darllenwch y flogbost yn Gymraeg

The Chartered Institute of Housing recently held the Housing Festival, which was billed as a new type of event to share new ways of working. Dyfrig Williams shares what he learnt below.

Recently, I’ve been working with the Chartered Institute of Housing to share learning from their Frontline Futures work with wider public services. This led to me being invited to moderate a Fishbowl discussion to share stories about solutions and innovations at the Housing Festival, which was being held in the Depot in Cardiff.

What the hell is a Fishbowl?

A graphic of the layout of a fishbowl, which is Five chairs surrounded by concentric circles of chairsGood question. I had to undertake a bit of research beforehand to get my head around what it was I was being asked to do. Essentially, it’s a chance to discuss a topic in a loosely structured format.

A number of chairs surround a smaller group of chairs. A few participants are selected to fill the fishbowl, while the rest of the group sit on the chairs outside the fishbowl. The moderator introduces the topic and the participants start discussing it. The audience outside the fishbowl listen in on the discussion and can take part by sitting in an empty chair in the middle, and then one of the speakers in the middle must make their way to the chairs on the outside.

Iteration is key

Esko Reinikainen spoke about the importance of iteration in his presentation at the start of the day. We got the opportunity to iterate our Fishbowl by gathering feedback from participants. We started off a bit slowly in the first fishbowl because I wanted to try and ease everyone into the process by focusing on questions. By the end of the first session though, we’d built up a real head of steam and participants were really engaged in challenging what they were hearing and how services could be improved. So the second time around we dashed through the initial discussions and encouraged people to contribute in the centre of the circle. If anyone’s planning on moderating a fishbowl, this meant that everything flowed a bit better and we had more of an opportunity to share good practice.

Learning from failure

Esko also mentioned Amy C. Edmondson’s concept of Teaming during this presentation, which starts with helping people to become curious, passionate, and empathic. I referenced another of Edmondson’s concepts, her Spectrum of Reasons for Failure. I think that this is a really handy tool for looking at failure and identifying subsequent action. We spoke about Trust a fair bit during our chats (and I’ve previously written this post about why trust is important to innovation), and I think that her dissection of what warrants blame is a really helpful tool for us as public sector staff. There are of course times where failure is not an option in public services, but too often we apportion blame for failure in inappropriate circumstances.

Ian from The Wallich shared a gut-wrenching story from the stage about how he became homeless. He could have appeared on the radar of any one of a variety of public services (health, social services, housing or the third sector), but it was The Wallich who helped him in his time of need. The complexity of his circumstance means that in this type of situation we should be looking to share lessons about what we can do better, yet too often a fear of blame is a barrier to learning, sharing and innovating within public services.

Working in complex environments

The Cynefin Framework, which is divided into the domains of Complex, Complicated, Chaotic, Simple and DisorderI shared The Cynefin Framework during the discussions, which we have used at the Good Practice Exchange to help us think about how we share practice. In simple circumstances where we can predict everything that’s going to happen, there is one right way of doing things that we can clearly apply to what we do, for instance in controlled environments like manufacturing. Yet in complex environments in which housing and other public services often operate, there is no one size fits all approach. This is when many of the approaches that Esko spoke about are most appropriate – we need to test, prototype and iterate.

We also need to think about how we can minimise our own organisational complexity so that we reduce our potential pitfalls. Do we need to create more policies for every conceivable circumstance? Can we move from process to productivity in order to empower staff to make better decisions instead? Paul Taylor has written a great post on this, and Owain Israel from Charter Housing gave a really good example of putting this into practice as they’re scaling back their formal surveying work to look at more flexible ways of checking properties. Neil Tamplin pointed out that this was a rare case of someone looking to make themselves obsolete, and Paul has written another good post that’s worth checking out on planned obsolescence as a driver for innovation.

Neil spoke about working out load on the panel, and I haven’t come across anyone in any public service who does this better than him. His Braindumps are a brilliant example of working in the open as they’re incredible roundups of his working week and interesting resources. This is so important because whilst there may not be a one size fits all approach that works for us in complex environments, there’s nothing stopping us from learning from others and adapting what other people are doing. Quite aptly, Neil has already written a great post on the event, and I couldn’t say this better than him:

“If your purpose has something to do with improving the lives of people who need housing then I would argue you are morally obligated to share anything that advances that cause, no matter how small or seemingly insignificant.”

Having talked so much about taking risks and learning from failure in this post, I wanted to finish by saying how great it was that the Chartered Institute of Housing took a chance on a different format and a different type of venue. It was certainly very different from a traditional public service event, which certainly provoked a few discussions and gave me a few talking points when meeting new people. Hopefully you all took as much away from the event as I did so that we can all make a practical difference into making people’s lives better.

The Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and Behaviour Change

A photo of a dog being pulled on a leadBehaviour Change of both the public and public services was a recurring theme in discussions at our event on The Future of Governance: Effective decision making for current and future generations. In this post, Chris Bolton looks at the challenges ahead and how we can get to grips with them.

“The real problem isn’t creating the vision for the future, it’s leaving where we are now…”

I’m not sure who said that, it might be a combination of several things I’ve read and heard over the last few months, in which case, I’m happy to claim it.

Key to the success (and the biggest problem) of the Wellbeing of Future Generations (WFG) Act are the very carefully thought Five Ways of Working (long term; integration; collaboration; involvement; and preventative). They all describe something that most people with a disposition towards a civilised society would find hard to disagree with. They are logical, sensible and most will agree with them. Possibly the best way to start a mass movement for change, find something that everyone can agree on.

The problematic part rests with human behaviour. As I see it there are broadly two things working against the Act; The System and People.

  • The public services ‘system’ is a complex beast that will respond in unpredictable ways to the behaviours of the people operating within it.
  • The changes in behaviour required by the Act are a seismic shift for many. The current behaviours have been developed over many years and are reinforced by organisational hierarchies and professional status.

It’s a huge challenge (and topic to discuss in a 1000 words) so I’ll try and illustrate my points under three headings:

  1. Correlation is not causation (it’s complicated and complex),
  2. It’s always been about behaviour, and
  3. We need to ‘Nudge not Yank’.

Correlation is not causation

If I could wish for one behaviour change around WFG Act it would be for decision makers to recognise that not all situations are straightforward with obvious answers. A few specific situations are, but many of the challenges we face around the WFG Act are complex (diabetes, multigenerational economic inactivity etc.).

Often the type of analysis used to supports decision making falls into the trap of mistaking correlation for causation when seeking ‘quick-wins’. For example, a successful economy will have a proportion of manufacturing businesses that typically operate out of industrial units. A fact.

It does not follow however that by creating lots of ‘industry ready’ buildings, manufacturing businesses will automatically appear in those buildings and create a successful economy. My colleague, Mark Jeffs, wrote an interesting article about ‘correlation not being causation’ which is sometimes called ‘cargo cult’.

The complex challenges of the WFG Act require decision making behaviours that; recognise complexity, accept uncertainty, the willingness to test different solutions, fail, learn the lessons from failure (out in the open), learn the lessons and move on. For decision makers who are ‘driven to deliver’ and ‘meet performance targets’ this can be a significant behavioural challenge.

It’s always been about behaviour

A phrase for you to ponder on, Hyperbolic Discounting (I can say what I like now, most people will have switched off).

Basically this is a human behaviour where people have a tendency to prefer more immediate payoffs rather than things that happen later on. This is to the extent that our future selves would probably have not made that decision, given the same information. This is also referred to as current moment bias or present bias.

This behaviour hasn’t just been invented to cause problems for the first of the WFG Act Five Ways of Working, Long Term Thinking. It’s been part of the human condition for thousands of years. If you are a prehistoric hunter gather with a lifespan of 30 years, long-term thinking probably isn’t high on your list of decision making behaviours / life skills.

There is frequently a tendency to ‘blame’ the political cycle of elections for short term thinking in public services. This might however be something deeper in human behaviour, a cognitive bias towards the short term. You can learn more about Hyperbolic Discounting in the 1997 paper by David Laibson in the Quarterly Journal of Economics.

We need to ‘Nudge not Yank’

Thanks to Professor Dave Snowden from the Cynefin Centre in Bangor University for developing the thinking around this.

In essence, lots of Public Services have ‘done’ behaviour change to service users over many years. Things like programmes to reduce smoking, wearing seatbelts in cars or even 5p plastic bag charges are ‘done’ to people.

Whilst many of these behaviour change initiates have had huge success, there are a different set of issues around may of the WFG Act challenges, for example the growth in Type 2 Diabetes. The approaches need to be more subtle and based more upon understanding were people are ‘disposed to change’. If people aren’t ‘disposed to change’, any initiative to change behaviour can run into full resistance or things like malicious compliance with unintended consequences. (I’ve written about this previously).

I would argue that to achieve the sustainable behaviour changes required by the WFG Act it is better to facilitate and nudge people in areas where they are ‘disposed to change’, rather than ‘shove’ or ‘yank’ them in areas where they aren’t.

That also represents a behaviour change for many people who will be involved in the delivery of the WFG Act.

Are we doomed?

Probably not, but there are some significant behaviour changes required to successfully deliver the WFG Act and we shouldn’t underestimate what is required.

Here are my Top 3 Tips for anyone involved in decision making and governance associated with the WFG Act:

  1. Accept that lots of situations will be complex and will require a ‘probe, test, fail, learn’ type approach before deciding on a solution.
  2. Surround yourself with people who have a different point of view and different experiences, and listen to them. It might help overcome Hyperbolic Discounting and a number of other cognitive biases (have a look at my post on The Ladder of Inference) for more on this.
  3. When trying to influence behaviour change look for areas where there is a ‘disposition to change’ and nudge there rather than trying to ‘shove’ or ‘yank’ people in the direction you think is best for them.

Deddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol a Newid Ymddygiad

Llun o gi yn cael ei dynnu ar dennyn

Cafodd y thema o newid ymddygiad y cyhoedd a gwasanaethau cyhoeddus yn gyffredinol ei drafod sawl gwaith yn ein digwyddiad ar Ddyfodol Llywodraethu: gwneud penderfyniadau effeithiol ar gyfer y genhedlaeth bresennol a chenedlaethau’r dyfodol. Yn y blogbost yma mae Chris Bolton yn edrych ar yr heriau sydd o’n blaen ni a sut allwn ni mynd i’r afael â nhw.

“Nid creu’r weledigaeth ar gyfer y dyfodol yw’r broblem go iawn, ond gadael lle rydym ni nawr…”

Dydw i ddim yn siŵr pwy ddywedodd hynny, gallai fod yn gyfuniad o sawl peth a ddarllenais ac a glywais dros yr ychydig fisoedd diwethaf, ac os felly, rwy’n hapus i’w arddel.

Yr allwedd i lwyddiant (a phroblem fwyaf) Deddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol yw’r Pum Ffordd o Weithio (integreiddio; cydweithio; tymor hir; cynhwysiad; ac atal) a luniwyd yn ofalus iawn. Maen nhw i gyd yn disgrifio rhywbeth y byddai’r rhan fwyaf o bobl sy’n awyddus i weld cymdeithas wâr yn ei chael yn anodd anghytuno â nhw. Maen nhw’n rhesymegol, yn synhwyrol a bydd y rhan fwyaf o bobl yn cytuno â nhw. Efallai mai’r ffordd orau i ddechrau mudiad torfol ar gyfer newid yw dod o hyd i rywbeth y gall pawb gytuno yn ei gylch.

Mae’r broblem yn deillio o ymddygiad pobl. Yn ôl yr hyn a welaf i, mae dau beth yn fras yn gweithio yn erbyn y Ddeddf; y System a Phobl.

  • Mae’r ‘system’ gwasanaethau cyhoeddus yn fwystfil cymhleth a fydd yn ymateb mewn ffyrdd anrhagweladwy i batrymau ymddygiad y bobl sy’n gweithredu o’i mewn
  • Mae’r newidiadau ymddygiad sy’n ofynnol gan y Ddeddf yn newid seismig i lawer. Mae’r patrymau ymddygiad presennol wedi’u datblygu dros nifer o flynyddoedd ac wedi’u hatgyfnerthu gan hierarchaethau sefydliadol a statws proffesiynol.

Mae’n her enfawr (a phwnc enfawr i’w drafod mewn 1000 o eiriau) felly ceisiaf egluro fy mhwyntiau o dan dri phennawd:

  1. Nid cydberthyniad yw achosiaeth (mae’n gymhleth ac yn ddyrys),
  2. Mae bob amser wedi ymwneud ag ymddygiad,
  3. Mae angen i ni ‘Hybu nid Tynnu’.

Nid cydberthyniad yw achosiaeth

Pe dymunwn weld un newid ymddygiad mewn perthynas â Deddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol, gweld y bobl sy’n penderfynu yn cydnabod nad yw pob sefyllfa’n syml gydag atebion amlwg fyddai’r newid hwnnw. Mae yna atebion felly i rai sefyllfaoedd penodol, ond mae llawer o’r heriau a wynebwn mewn perthynas â Deddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol yn gymhleth (diabetes, anweithgarwch economaidd dros sawl cenhedlaeth ac ati).

Yn aml, mae’r math o ddadansoddiad a ddefnyddir i gefnogi gwneud penderfyniadau yn disgyn i’r fagl o gamgymryd cydberthyniad am achosiaeth wrth geisio sicrhau ‘enillion cyflym’. Er enghraifft, bydd gan economi lwyddiannus gyfran o fusnesau gweithgynhyrchu sydd fel arfer yn gweithredu mewn unedau diwydiannol. Ffaith.

Nid yw’n dilyn, fodd bynnag, fod creu llawer o adeiladau ‘parod ar gyfer diwydiant’ yn golygu y bydd busnesau gweithgynhyrchu yn ymddangos yn awtomatig yn yr adeiladau hynny ac yn creu economi lwyddiannus. Ysgrifennodd fy nghydweithiwr, Mark Jeffs, erthygl ddiddorol yn dangos ‘nad achosiaeth yw cydberthyniad’, sydd weithiau’n cael ei alw’n ‘cwlt cargo’.

Mae heriau cymhleth Deddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol yn galw am ymddygiad gwneud penderfyniadau sydd: yn cydnabod cymhlethdod, yn derbyn ansicrwydd, yn barod i brofi gwahanol atebion, yn methu, yn dysgu’r gwersi o fethiant (allan yn agored), yn dysgu’r gwersi ac yn symud ymlaen. Ar gyfer rhai sy’n gwneud penderfyniadau sy’n cael eu ‘gyrru i gyflawni’ a ‘chyrraedd targedau perfformiad’ gall hyn fod yn her sylweddol i ymddygiad.

Mae bob amser wedi ymwneud ag ymddygiad

Ymadrodd i chi feddwl amdano, Diystyru Hyperbolig (gallaf ddweud beth bynnag a ddymunaf yn awr, bydd y rhan fwyaf o bobl wedi mynd i gysgu).

Yn y bôn, ymddygiad dynol yw hwn lle mae pobl yn tueddu i ffafrio enillion mwy uniongyrchol yn hytrach na phethau sy’n digwydd yn nes ymlaen. Mae hyn yn digwydd i’r fath raddau fel na fyddai ein hunain yn y dyfodol wedi gwneud y penderfyniad hwnnw, ar sail yr un wybodaeth. Cyfeirir at hyn hefyd fel gogwydd tuag at y foment gyfredol neu ogwydd tuag at y presennol.

Nid ymddygiad newydd gael ei ddyfeisio yw hwn i achosi problemau i’r gyntaf o Bum Ffordd o Weithio Deddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol, sef Meddwl yn hirdymor. Mae wedi bod yn rhan o’r cyflwr dynol ers miloedd o flynyddoedd. Os ydych yn heliwr cynhanesyddol gyda hyd oes o 30 mlynedd, mae’n debyg nad yw meddwl yn hirdymor yn uchel ar eich rhestr o batrymau ymddygiad/sgiliau bywyd ar gyfer gwneud penderfyniadau.

Ceir tuedd yn aml i ‘feio’ y cylch gwleidyddol o etholiadau am feddylfryd byrdymor ym maes gwasanaethau cyhoeddus. Fodd bynnag gallai hyn fod yn rhywbeth dyfnach mewn ymddygiad dynol, gogwydd gwybyddol tuag at y tymor byr. Gallwch ddysgu mwy am Ddiystyru Hyperbolig yn y papur gan David Laibson yn y Quarterly Journal of Economics ym 1997.

Mae angen i ni ‘Hybu nid Tynnu’

Diolch i’r Athro Dave Snowden o Ganolfan Cynefin ym Mhrifysgol Bangor am ddatblygu’r ystyriaethau ynglŷn â hyn.

Yn ei hanfod, mae llawer o Wasanaethau Cyhoeddus wedi ‘gwneud’ newid ymddygiad i ddefnyddwyr gwasanaethau dros flynyddoedd lawer. Mae pethau fel rhaglenni i leihau ysmygu, gwisgo gwregys mewn ceir neu daliadau o 5c am fagiau plastig hyd yn oed eisoes wedi cael eu cyflwyno i bobl.

Er bod llawer o’r camau cychwynnol hyn i newid ymddygiad wedi cael llwyddiant ysgubol, mae yna gyfres wahanol o faterion yn ymwneud â heriau Deddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol, er enghraifft y cynnydd mewn Diabetes Math 2. Mae angen i’r dulliau fod yn fwy cynnil ac yn fwy seiliedig ar ddeall lle mae pobl yn gogwyddo tuag at newid. Os nad yw pobl yn gogwyddo tuag at newid, gall unrhyw fenter i newid ymddygiad wynebu gwrthwynebiad llawn neu bethau fel cydymffurfio maleisus gyda chanlyniadau anfwriadol. (Ysgrifennais am hyn o’r blaen).

Er mwyn cyflawni’r newidiadau ymddygiad cynaliadwy sy’n ofynnol gan Ddeddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol byddwn yn dadlau ei bod hi’n well hwyluso a hybu pobl mewn meysydd lle maent yn gogwyddo tuag at newid, yn hytrach na’u gwthio neu eu tynnu mewn meysydd lle nad ydynt yn gogwyddo tuag at newid.
Mae hynny hefyd yn newid ymddygiad i lawer o bobl a fydd yn rhan o’r gwaith o gyflwyno Deddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol.

A yw hi ar ben arnom?

Nac ydy, yn ôl pob tebyg, ond mae angen newidiadau ymddygiad sylweddol er mwyn cyflwyno Deddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol yn llwyddiannus ac ni ddylem fychanu’r hyn sydd ei angen.

Dyma fy 3 cyngor gorau ar gyfer unrhyw un sy’n rhan o’r broses o wneud penderfyniadau a’r llywodraethu sy’n gysylltiedig â Deddf Llesiant Cenedlaethau’r Dyfodol:

  1. Derbyniwch y bydd llawer o sefyllfaoedd yn gymhleth ac yn gofyn am ddull o weithredu sy’n galw am ‘ymchwilio, profi, methu, dysgu’ cyn penderfynu ar ateb.
  2. Gwnewch yn siŵr fod yna bobl o’ch cwmpas sy’n meddu ar farn wahanol ac wedi cael profiadau gwahanol, a gwrandewch arnynt. Gallai helpu i oresgyn Diystyru Hyperbolig a nifer o ogwyddion gwybyddol (edrychwch ar fy mhost ar The Ladder of Inference) am ragor ar hyn.
  3. Wrth geisio dylanwadu ar newid ymddygiad edrychwch am feysydd lle ceir ‘gogwyddo tuag at newid’ a rhowch hwb yn y fan honno yn hytrach na cheisio ‘gwthio’ neu ‘dynnu’ pobl i’r cyfeiriad y credwch chi sydd orau ar eu cyfer.