What helps and hinders change?

We recently published a very brief guide to six linked innovations, to show how they can work together to create whole-area change. Here is my Guardian blog. Thanks to Community Catalysts, Local Area Coordination, Community Circles and Helen Sanderson Associates who were the partners with Shared Lives Plus.

The five organisations involved also pulled together this list of what enables and what gets in the way. We’d be interested in your thoughts on these. I’ve mentioned below a couple of areas doing inspiring work on this agenda  – but I’d be interested to hear about others I’ve missed.


  • Applying asset based thinking to the whole area: the new ‘core business’ rather than series of ‘pilots’ eg Wigan, Thurrock, Bracknell Forest
  • Strong coproduction infrastructure including ULOs, self-advocacy groups, peer support groups for people with specific conditions
  • Effective roll out of Direct Payments and personal budgets including ISFs, with widely available information, advice and brokerage services which are also accessible to self-funders; minimum red tape approach to spending individual allocations; people supported to pool their individual resources.
  • Multi agency strategic planning with a focus on wellbeing as the primary goal, expressed through cross cutting aims eg reducing loneliness, increasing social connections and resilience, reducing mate and hate crime
  • A culture of shared responsibility, and a shared goal to reduce dependence and customer service culture eg Wigan New Deal
  • Strong VCSE infrastructure which is inclusive of all kinds and sizes of not-for-profits including small community enterprises
  • Funding including social investment for double funding and innovation. Access to local or national innovation funds.
  • Consistent use throughout area of effective measuring tools including ASCOT, POET; use of evidence and data to facilitate conversations with citizens about change.


  • Cuts to public service budgets and different approaches to managing those cuts
  • High levels of inequality and lack of inclusion and social integration
  • Strategic goals defined centrally/ top down and overly focused on the financial stability of the acute end of the system, or divided by condition group, rather than focused on outcomes and cross-cutting goals
  • Difficult local politics preventing risk taking and decommissioning what doesn’t work.
  • Lack of commissioning capacity and skills; tendency to commission largest organisations to reduce transaction or unit costs regardless of cost-effectiveness of models.
  • People prevented from making real choices by limited or filtered information about range of support and services; or by unnecessary rules around the use of public funding and personal budgets. Provider lists which exclude new entrants and start-ups.
  • VCSE sector under-developed or dominated by small number of large organisations; VCSE infrastructure organisations unstable or unsuited to current environment.




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