Tag Archives: monmouthshire

Randomised Coffee Trials: Encouraging networking

Could Randomised Coffee Trials help people within your organisation to network and share information? In this blogpost, Bethan Davies reviews the Good Practice Exchange’s use of the method.

Some of you may already be aware that the Good Practice Team have been piloting Randomised Coffee Trials for the past year, as a way of encouraging delegates to continue conversations after our events. Dyfrig Williams blogged about the use of Randomised Coffee Trials last year.

Back in January, we thought it would be good to get a feel for how the process is going, and whether it’s something we should continue with or whether we need to find a new approach. We decided to survey our seminar delegates to seek views of those that had taken part, and those that hadn’t, and find out what they thought.

We received 65 responses to our survey, with some really interesting responses and overall, most were positive. Some of the reasons people like the Randomised Coffee Trials were:

  • It’s good to know that colleagues in the public sector face the same frustrations and challenges!
  • It’s a good opportunity to discuss current work, share good practice and learn from each other
  • It provided the opportunity to have helpful discussions with people that would otherwise never cross paths in their day to day work
  • It’s a great way to learn about what other organisations and people do and helps identify potential opportunities that could aid own organisations work

For those that didn’t take part in the trials, the reasons varied from people not having the time to take part on top of their day to day jobs, they were not interested in the process, or that they just didn’t understand the process, which is a lesson for us.

The feedback made me think about how we ensure all delegates have the same opportunities to engage and continue conversations after our events. Having a busy day to day job may mean some people don’t want to make that extra commitment to meeting up with someone new. An interesting bit of feedback that we had from one delegate was that we should set up a Randomised Coffee Trial during or after our seminar – a bit like speed dating! That would enable everyone to take part, hopefully provide further clarification for those that don’t understand the process, and enable those who want to continue to do so. Something for us to keep in mind!

Another suggestion was about having an online space where people can share their stories and find new partners/ organisations that have similar issues to discuss. A recent example of an organisation doing something similar is Monmouthshire Made Open.

A screenshot of Monmouthshire Made OpenMonmouthshire Made Open allows people to raise challenges; crowd-source solutions; pitch ideas and ask for funding, volunteers or materials on a single platform. Unlike other social media it allows people to turn problems into actions in a single place, people make and build connections and form groups, people can ‘like’ ideas and help shape solutions which can help build consensus and a movement for change.

Monmouthshire Made Open is still in its early stages of development, but is definitely worth looking at. Monmouthshire Council hope this platform becomes a key tool in involving people in the development of the wellbeing assessment for the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act and help them identify innovative and shared solutions.

We’re going to continue with Randomised Coffee Trials for the foreseeable future, but if you have any suggestions for us please get in touch!

As we all face complex and challenging times, no single individual or organisation has the answers, so it’s so important that we encourage communication between organisations and encourage learning.

Refocusing work with children and young people

This is the latest blog in a series from the All Wales Continuous Improvement Community Awards, which was held last November. How might your organisation look again at its work with children and young people? Tracy Jelfs from Monmouthshire County Council tells us what they did. 

Monmouthshire County Council / Cyngor Sir FynwyMonmouthshire Children’s Services has been experiencing significant changes over the past few years, this resulted in an inefficient service to children and young people and low morale for staff. Since April 2014 a refocus on direct work with children and young people has commenced within the context of good practice.

This began with listening to staff, who are our key resource, to understand what was needed to achieve improvements. A range of tools, training and support for the staff group has been set up using a variety of methods including training sessions and a website to link all Children’s Services information, which enables staff easy access to resources. Staff continue to identify what they need and we then source support and tools to meet the needs as necessary. In addition staff have considered what systems and processes achieve the best outcomes for children and these continue to be developed.

Barriers from the initial work were found not within Children’s Services, but in wider Council services and took some time to resolve. This caused delay and jeopardised the change management process, as staff felt undermined and that they were not being listened to by the authority.

Significant work was undertaken to resolve these issues and refocus staff on what children and young people needed. The service needed to move from functioning as four teams to one service and to prioritise the needs of children and young people, whilst underpinning this with good practice. This resulted in a move from two previous team bases into one base. This has proved to be a significant turning point for the staff group and has enabled direct conversations and building of the teams into a service with a common purpose.

In addition changes have been made to the recruitment process, which have given the service a much clearer view of candidates and ensures we recruit the right staff for the service. Morale continues to improve and staff are now in a position where they are able to consider different ways of working with children and young people and are developing ideas and business cases to further develop and improve their service area.

The service has established a purpose and clear direction which enables families and communities to keep children and young people safe and to reach their full potential. The service is also developing a culture of ownership and high expectations of practice from all staff whatever their role in the service. Further developments are planned as this work progresses. This includes business cases in a number of areas based on evidence and prioritising children and young people’s needs.

The service has created an environment that enables workers to have decision making capabilities as near to the front line as possible, ensuring that they are supported in making those decisions. It also provides a culture that staff views are at the forefront of service development, whilst establishing clear expectations of the staff group in Monmouthshire Children’s Services.

This blog is from the All Wales Continuous Improvement Community Awards, which was held in November 2014.

Jargon busting

Jargon

Recently we’ve been hearing from the Wales Audit Office Communications Team about how our upcoming new and improved website will be simpler to use and also make it easier for people to find the information that they need.

Andrew Purnell, the Wales Audit Office’s Digital Communications Officer, has been educating us as a team about what an effective website looks like, and also how language plays an important part in that. It’s almost impossible to find what you’re looking for if you don’t understand the headings you’re looking under, and it’s even worse if you can’t make head nor tail of the information once you’ve got there. He explained to us how providing a website glossary means that you’ve failed at your duty to provide a clear language website, and if people don’t find the right information first time they’ll simply click away from your site.

As the public service watchdog for Wales, the Wales Audit Office has an important role to play here. It’s important that we show how important it is that information from Welsh public services is clear, because it means that people have a better understanding of the work that we all do.

Cllr Andrew Jenkins recently blogged for us ahead of the upcoming scrutiny conference, saying that ineffective communication between politicians and the electorate has led to distrust in politicians. The same things can also happen with public services, as this moving blog from Mark Neary shows.

There’s lots of information online, including guides from the Plain English campaign and its Drivel Defence tool, as well as the Cymraeg Clîr or ‘Clear Welsh’ handbook from Bangor University.

If you choose to go down this route, there’s no need to start from scratch. Monmouthshire County Council have helpfully already made their staff writing guide available online.

I had the privilege of working with the Citizen’s Panel for Social Services in Wales in my last job with Participation Cymru, where I unfortunately heard too often about how people aren’t given the information they need to help them access the right services for them. It’s important that we all make sure that people can make the most of their public services by making information both easy to find and to understand. I wonder how many public service websites truly do this?

–      Dyfrig

We are passionate about not re-inventing the wheel

One of the four pillars of the Good Practice Exchange’s philosophy is that we don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel. If we came across an approach or project which has achieved reasonable success in the public, private or third sector from anywhere in the world, we want to promote it. We think it’s quite likely other organisations will have a similar problem.

We feel passionately about this. For instance, an organisation might have already done some serious leg work on pulling together a business case to change their approach to a service. Our view is that there will be at least some lessons learnt from the project team, which we think should be shared widely to benefit other organisations. Knowing what things to look out for, avoid, do more, do less of and manage differently is bound to be of benefit in terms of both time and money for other organisations who are or will be in a similar position.

Imagine further, what if the business case approach was of such a similar nature to what an organisation was intending to pull together that it saves hundreds of staff days? Doesn’t it make complete sense for us to promote the business case?

[On behalf of the Good Practice Team, I need to be quite clear; we are not saying this is THE approach to take, but that this is AN approach you could consider taking. The same thing goes for when we talk about good practice case studies as opposed to Best Practice. We think that Best Practice suggests that we are saying that this is THE approach, whereas, in reality what we are saying this is AN approach. In essence, we don’t advocate a one size fits all approach].

A good example of a business case which we have promoted is the Agile Working Business Case from Monmouthshire County Council (as part of our Agile Working Shared Learning Seminar). The Council have implemented their agile working well over two years ago now. We feel the Council is in a great position to share all the things that worked well, what didn’t worked so well and what they would do differently if they had their time over again.

Sian Hayward of Monmouthshire County Council is a great advocate of sharing her learning from the Agile Working project. She has had visits/telephone conversations from almost every local authority in Wales as well many other organisations, and you can hear her discuss this in the above video. We think this is an effective way for organisations to learn, adapt the business case and take it forward at a greater pace as they are not starting with a blank sheet of paper.

Another example of not re-inventing the wheel is that of a Welsh Social Enterprise called Indycube. This company has successfully set up a series of WiFi enabled offices in Wales where individuals or companies can hire a desk for £10 a day. What about the idea of organisations working with Indycube in setting up a site in their organisation? Listen to what the owner Mark Hooper has to say about the idea and different approaches taken by current organisations using the different locations.

So, if after reading this blog you know of an approach or project which other public services would benefit from, why not drop us a line? We’d really like to hear from you, as we are about sharing the experience…and the results.

Ena