Don’t do it unless you have to?

We know that multi-agency partnership working is difficult.

“Collaboration is by nature inefficient.  It is only sensible to collaborate if real collaborative advantage can be envisaged.  The strongest piece of advice, therefore, is ‘don’t do it unless you have to’”. 

Here’s a new set of reports that document the lessons from the Fife Alcohol Partnership Project.  There are lots of lessons from the overall approach likely to be of interest to others facing similar challenges across Scotland and the wider UK. It is likely to be of particular interest to members of Alcohol and Drug Partnerships, Community Planning Partnerships and all those with an interest in the public service reform agenda.

The reports are available on the FASS website.

•Quote from: Doing Things Collaboratively: Realizing the Advantage or Succumbing to Inertia?  Professor Chris Huxham and Siv Vangen, Organizational Dynamics, Vol 33, No 2 2004, University of Strathclyde

 

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How to create an appetite for evidence……

I’m just back from a very interesting gathering of folk who find evidence use fascinating and want to see more of it.    We at least seemed to agree that we want to create more of an appetite for evidence and want to do more sharing of examples of promising practices.

So here is an example based on a conference paper given last year. 

Creating a community of reflective practice– It’s based on the CEDAR evaluation but goes into more detail about the approach.  You might like this if you:

  • want to see better use of existing evidence both from elsewhere and the stuff that we’re already swimming in;
  • think that the evidence doesn’t ‘speak for itself’;
  • suspect that hearing the voice of the consumer or service user might well provide very valuable perspectives on the nature of the problem and generate new solutions;
  • suspect that much could be learnt by sharing of the rich experience of practitioners;
  • would like to see those practitioners get more feedback about their work – both what’s good and what needs to change;
  • think that if research is to be worthwhile, it should contribute to changes in practice as well as report the outcomes of the programme;
  • like the idea of a community of reflective practice, but are not sure how to make a start.

For a short visual explanation of some of this you might also want to have at look here.

 

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How action research can help to deliver better services

See this short creative storyboard – with thanks to IRISS for their support

How action research can help to deliver better services from iriss on Vimeo.

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We need more experimentation….

This is well worth a look……The Public Petitions Committee of the Scottish Parliament   An important call for us all to talk about our assumptions, share our thinking and adopt a more experimental approach to the design and delivery of public services.    We’ve been arguing much the same thing here.

 

 

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When are you ever not piloting?

See this new page with a short article about the important debate about redefining the relationship between public services and communities and the role of research and evidence.  It would be great to hear your responses.

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An award for mentoring

The Craighead Institute have been awarded Mentoring in Business Project of the Year 2011 for their Management & Leadership Health, Work and Wellbeing Mentoring Project.  The evaluation of this important project was undertaken by Research for Real.

See the report here.


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Research as if people were human

 Here’s a link to an important new book by Yoland Wadsworth “Building in research and evaluation – human inquiry for living systems“, 2011

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How can evaluation be worthwhile and useful?

We have recently completed an exciting and innovative action research evaluation of the Cedar groupwork programme.  This provided a systemic and reflective approach to evaluation which is likely to be of interest to others who want to blend action and analysis in all areas of public policy.   Our perspective was that if research is to be worthwhile, it should contribute to changes in practice as well as report the outcomes of the programme.

The design of the evaluation process created a blended multiple sources of evidence of all kinds, including the perspectives of the children and mothers, in a series of different types of reflective and participatory spaces.   This approach has meant that emerging evidence arising from the implementation of the pilot has been trialled, interpreted and subjected to the hard test of complex live practice.

We used a number of innovative participatory research methods to involve programme participants and professionals in the generation and analysis of narrative and story-based evidence, including the use of composite stories which allowed the voices of children and mothers to remain in the foreground.  They also revealed much about the deeper issues and meanings that professionals and participants attached to their experience; the assumptions, values, expectations, ways of seeing and emotions of which they may not always have been aware, may have found to be ‘un-discussible’ or chosen not to speak about.

Here’s the final report:  We Thought They Didn’t See

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Action research makes an impact?

One of my ‘favourite’ quotes is from a former Chief Research Officer who said that “Evidence-based policy is all very well, but at the end of the day, politics wins out”.  So in that spirit, it’s great to hear that a Research for Real action research  project is being discussed in the Scottish Parliament.   We’ll update you on the funding position as soon as we know.   UPDATE:  Both interim and final reports are now available on the projects page.  

Excerpt taken from Meeting of the Parliament 27 January 2011

3. To ask the Scottish Executive, in light of the getting it right for every child approach, what plans it has to ensure that children and young people experiencing and recovering from domestic abuse receive appropriate support. (S3O-12784)

  • The Minister for Children and Early Years (Adam Ingram): In 2010-11, we provided £4.16 million for the children’s services-women’s aid fund, which supports the network of children’s workers throughout Scotland. I was delighted to announce in the Parliament on 23 December last year that we will continue to fund those important local services at the same level for 2011-12.
  • Cathy Peattie: That answer is very welcome.

    The minister will be aware of the positive evaluations of the children experiencing domestic abuse recovery pilot projects in Edinburgh, Fife and Forth valley in my constituency in a report that is appropriately entitled “Through the eyes of a bairn”. What is the timescale for delivering that important project?

  • Adam Ingram: We are looking at funding the CEDAR project through the new early years and early intervention fund. We are working up details on the scope and management of the new fund and eligibility for it, and we will make an announcement as soon as we can.
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