Danny Hearn

Powering up Power to change

When I first started in the social good sector, I longed to work with the wider ecosystem to design a different way of creating change. Fortunately, I was given that opportunity, here is a short story of the journey so far.  It began with a team drawn from the Catalyst ecosystem (DOT PROJECTOutlandish, Power to Change, and a couple of Catalyst’s core team members).  We formalised this team as a membership circle to work with and support community businesses.  The team wanted support to learn how to co-design a new funding approach through a grounded, empathetic and design-based practice.

Power to change is a funder that helps communities revive local assets, protect the services people rely on, and address local needs through community businesses. 

The challenge

The design journey

Beginning a design journey

While the team were familiar with common design methods, they were missing a framework and direction to guide them through the process. 

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Establishing a rhythm and cadence

As the intent was to innovate, there were a few key ingredients we needed in place; 

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A working remote space

In order to collaborate and record the thinking we primarily used MIRO, an online collaborative whiteboard tool. 

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A new project approach

Outline of project approach

I developed a path and design framework for the team to follow.

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Un-boiling the ocean of research

The first task was to 'un-boil' all the research done to date and establish some priorities of where to focus on first.

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Understanding where to focus on first ​

It was important to understand where to focus on first, so we developed a survey using the theme'd insights.

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Ranking and prioritising​

Bubble diagram visualising the results of the survey

We mapped the survey results using a bubble diagram to visualise where to the most viable opportunities were.

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Going deeper into one area

What emerged as the most important and that the community businesses had the least capacity for was 'Finding time, space and support to reflect on what we need as an organisation'.

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Sense making the interviews

To create a shared understanding between the team based on all the interviews, we held space to share, discuss and capture themes and patterns that emerged.

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Problem statements

The group attempted to create a problem statement that summarised their understanding to focus on the insights.

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Ideation around different themes

Bringing together the collective wisdom and group discussion, we generated several ‘How might we..’ statements..based on the opportunities we could see.

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Sketching

Having voted on a collection of HMW statements, we created clear goals and outlined the users' feelings when using the service.

Goals for sketching

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Prototyping and next steps

The team are now entering a new phase of prototyping a different kind of support for community businesses.  One that is focused on giving space to think. 

The next challenge will be to develop a support programme prototype that validates the assumptions made without becoming too big to fail.  

My final reflections

Initially, I felt a little overwhelmed skimming through the 100-page report and seeing the large amounts of work done to date. Later on, by reflecting on the different modalities of a design journey to ‘converge’ or ‘diverge’ was very helpful for me.  The group could see that the reason it was overwhelming was that they had tried to converge and move into an ideas phase too quickly. We needed to spend time sensemaking and aligning on the research done to date.  Using the Jobs to be done survey method was really effective for this. 

The sessions themselves still required patience and guidance to keep the group from jumping to ideas and converging (jumping to the second mountain) too quickly.  It can be an uncomfortable place to be, where it feels like we are drifting and endlessly discussing things.  However, what was actually happening was that the team were forming a strong consensus about what the problem is.  This group consensus was key to developing and innovating in the ideas phase in an effective way.

The challenge of the team’s limited availability was overcome well with the thoughtful use of different collaborative spaces and tools.  They came together in collaborative sessions and discuss and then worked more effectively offline until the next meeting.

Towards the later stages of the journey, it was wonderful to see the group gaining confidence in both the process and the ideas being created.

An innovation-friendly culture
I think the culture of the team wanting to deeply listen to each other served them well in what can easily become a process that only the loudest voices are heard. It was a delicate balance to strike between behaviours of consensus vs the speed and excitement of developing an idea.

The patience paid off as it bought the team to think deeply about a really about a very simple, compelling and important problem; supporting organisations to find, create and hold space to think about their priorities.

Feedback

I got so much from the 2 hours I was able to come along yesterday — thank you for some great facilitation @Danny Hearn and also just want to notice the value of doing the slower and deeper research. The depth and colour we were able to understand and talk through about what the CBs might really need was fabulous.’