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The Best Things In Life Are Free

Sometimes we forget that the best things in life are free, especially when it comes to innovation.  I have invited Jon Harvey, Director of JonHarveyAssociates and keen blogger to discuss his view on this...

'Nearly a year ago, I established a newsblog with the purpose of documenting, supporting and celebrating the small and creative ideas that are making a difference in the public and third sectors. Since then, I have managed to find and write up approximately 300+ innovations that frontline staff have implemented to save a bit of money, improve a part of practice or simply make work easier and better. People have visited the blog from all around the world, as well as the UK, and it has had nearly 10,000 page-loads!

The blog is based on the simple premise that when it comes to improving an organisation, the best place to start is with the people who work in it. I think the best organisations are the ones which have created and maintained the conditions in which people feel able and moved to come forward with their ideas for improvement. I think far too many public (and commercial) organisations have become too dependent on the ‘bring in the big teams of expensive experts’ approach to transforming services. The worrying fact is that vast amounts of tax payers money are spent (and will be spent over coming months) on these large programmes of change – when so much more could be done with ‘home grown’ talent! (There is an ongoing debate on linked-in about this if you want to engage in it: http://preview.tinyurl.com/yhljd2l : Why do public sector organisations keep on hiring consultants on vast budgets to create new structures / systems etc. when so much could be done with the existing staff?)

I have managed to find the ideas by searching the net, spotting posts from various organisations on twitter (and the like) but mostly through writing to local authorities, the police and so forth. Sometimes I get a nil or formal response ( such as “We don’t have a list of small creative ideas in our council...”). But often I get a reply that delights me. I am delighted because I know that someone has had the bright idea and made it happen. I chose to use a blog – as this was simple to keep up to date, made the information dynamic and encouraged interaction. Most people just read the blog – but I am having an increasing number of comments being posted. Using a blog format does come with complications – as some public organisations ‘block’ blogs. But I think this will change as people up to the power of Web 2.0 to interact and engage with people – be they fellow professionals or citizens.

There are so many ideas on the blog (and it is still growing) – I do not have favourite as such. However, the one example I use to illustrate what the blog is all about is a scheme in Wandsworth about garden sharing. I imagine they found they did not have enough allotments to match demand and then Age Concern highlighted the problem of isolated older people with gardens to spare. People are now matched up – gardeners get somewhere to grow vegetables, the older people get company and garden that looks good – and everyone wins! It is an imaginative solution to a problem. There is more information here.  I also adore the idea from Kettering of recycling boxes on wheels for people who found lifting them tricky. This is another example of where frontline staff listened to their citizens and implemented a great idea!

You can visit it here: http://smallcreativeideas.blogspot.com/ Please browse and search for ideas that could help you. Moreover, if you have an idea that you would like to share with the world – please email me. (jon@jonharveyassociates.co.uk) http://jonharveyassociates.blogspot.com/ (my ‘other’ blog!)' Thanks!

Appeal on Twitter: Why do you use blogging?

Picture: A cartoon showing two stick men.  One is saying 'Are you blogging this?' in a speech bubble and the other is replying 'You wish!', with thanks to teemus for publishing on Flickr under a Creative Commons license some rights reserved.

Twitter responses:

DavidWilcox - Blogging in the knowledge ecosystem: outboard brain, incubating ideas, learning http://bit.ly/5BtTPC

DavidWilcox - Tougher to get exact value from blogging because of shift to Twitter. I use to evolve narratives. Story/sense emerges from posts/links.

laurenivory - New to the game- to me blogging is reflection and freedom. Can develop your view in a blog- see it as a tool for learning :)

MorningReverie - Blogging is personal - plus, use of tags = easier to find what u want to read/easier categorising.. can show talent??

Mickelous - I blog to give a personal view on learning technologies. I often refer people to posts so I guess it reaches out there a bit!

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