Developing open collaborative innovation

We used this site to develop an "open source bid" to the UK Cabinet Office for a £1.2 million innovation exchange - available here. We didn't win - but see it as our most successful failure of 2007. Here's the case study.

Comments

better late than never

So sorry to be taking so long to comment. I keep snatching time to absorb all so I can make useful if not late comments.

This is what I am wrestling with...

The tender doc is requesting something that is actually quite a simple (albeit a little elusive) thing The proposals are very complex...

Now, this could be to do with the process of tendering itself and the form in which you have to tender

Or, it might be to do with overload to do with having read too much and not having had time to step back or neither of the above.

My critical question would be : can you really expect an innovation exchange which takes all its referecne points currently from the public sector to come up with something new? Innovation happens in all areas of the economy and world and having looked at it now for 5 or six years the most interesting developments look to me like they may come back to us from other countries - whether it be models from the developing world or even, god forbid, the US.

Our own sectors have struggled with innovation (albeit models are a plenty) Hence, no doubt the need for new thinking.

Btw.  By day I am an Innovation Exec at the BBC (currently working with the World Service Trust, an NGO)  by night am setting up a new social enterprise.  I am also currently a Student at the School for Social Entrepreneurs.  So wearing many hats on this one.

 

Lucy's comment

Lucy

I too have waited to comment and have now sent comments on version 4.2 direct to Simon by email.

Bid processes to government are very complex. This one has to show technical competence, knowledge of the product and market and probably demonstate a wide-ranging consortium. At least the players are from the sector it seeks to serve, and not private companies all.

One thing that does strike me - as a social entrepreneur setting something up yourself, do you have examples of barriers / difficulties / issues that you are encountering ? Any such examples might be used in teh bid to give a real live flavour to its strength.

Barriers

One thing that does strike me - as a social entrepreneur setting
something up yourself, do you have examples of barriers / difficulties
/ issues that you are encountering ? Any such examples might be used in
teh bid to give a real live flavour to its strength.

Hi Lucy - I think you have spotted a weakness, or at least a straight forwatd way we could strengthen our bid - I am sure we know what the barriers are if we had time to think about it! Do you have a list? We could build on Hina's post too.

If you had a list that would be helpful. We could then say explicitly how the OIE would overcome them.

 

Regards

Simon
11/5/07

 

Comment

Simon

I misled you. It was a comment from me to Lucy about the barriers.

Hina's post has some really perceptive comments from someone who has recently tried to set up.

Alex

 

My critical question would

My critical question would be : can you really expect an innovation
exchange which takes all its referecne points currently from the public
sector to come up with something new?

Exactly! But we did feel the need to come up with a concept which we could hang our bid on. The model developed here came out experience as innovators and not from published sources (eg Mulgan and Albury, nfpSynergy and others). We have found these subsequently and they have been helpful and reinforced our notion that a new approach is required.

Innovation happens in all areas
of the economy and world and having looked at it now for 5 or six years
the most interesting developments look to me like they may come back to
us from other countries - whether it be models from the developing
world or even, god forbid, the US.

I agree with this too. I know this to be the case, having worked and lived in Africa and S America for 12 years on the British Aid Programme . . . . The fractional social
franchising model we are using to deliver our net:gain programme was used, it
turns out, to deliver health services in Africa in 2000:
http://www.mariestopes.org.uk/pdf/working-paper-no5-social.pdf

Please also see the net:gain posting here.

Interested to help

I would like to help if there is something I can do

How to help

Thanks for the offer Alex. There are several ways you can help:

You can comment on the elements of the proposal - these are emerging here. Click on the element you are interested in and if you want to comment, click the 'Add a Comment' link at the bottom.

You can also comment on any other item you see here, whether it is part of the proposal or not.

Alternatively, you can just 'have your say. To do this, login and then click on 'My Blog' and 'Post a new blog entry' and start typing. You can also attach files, embed pictures etc

All comments are gratefully received and will help with the bid.

 

 

1) I might have

1) I might have misunderstood the idea but I think there is a need to exchange people as well as ideas, so that they can learn from direct experience. There is a Civil Service scheme that promotes exchanges and short term secondments between NGOs, Gmnt and Business. It could be nicked and adapted.

 2) There could be scope for paying for services through a system of barter. E.g. I lend you an accountant to set up your financial system. I get 100 credits and I buy the services of an expert from a third organisation to help us design an evaluation and a person from a fourth organisation to help us put a complex bid together. 

OIE acts as a labour exchange and also as a clearing house for bartered credits.

 Keep barter to intellectual services actually delivered and the chances of dishonesty are much less.

Active brokerage

I think this is absolutely right. We want the OIE to make links between people and support these relationships.

At RNUK Ltd we have processes and an online system to do the sort of matching you are suggesting. It works like this.

1. There is an on-going recruitment process which identifies people who have skills that others need (potentially everyone!) and who are willing to act as mentors/advisers.

2. We then advertise that a network of 'mentors' are in place to help people in the innovation process.

3. People contact the service by phone, letter or email with a support request.

4. This request is worked up into a support requirement and this is posted online into a closed area to which only the mentor network has access (let's call this the 'active brokerage area').

5. Mentors who: have the skills to help; are available and in the right-ish geographical area then put themselves forward, online in the active brokerage area. So everyone can see who is putting themselves forward.

6. After a short time the CVs of those offering help are sent to 'the client' by the system administrator and they are asked to choose their mentor. So 'the client' engages in the process before anyone visits them. Note also that the mentors maintain their own CVs in the active brokerage area.

7. The client's choice is then posted by the system adminstrator into the active brokerage area so that everyone can see who has been chosen.

8. After every significant interaction between mentor and client, the mentor posts an agreed action plan to the active brokerage area.

9. Mentors submit their invoice to the system administrator who checks with the client that they are happy and if an action plan is in place the invoice gets paid by the system administrator.

We have used this system since 2000 to support three support networks: DirectSupport (support to UK online centres); the Community Broadband Network and CAFnet (the network of consultants that support recipeints of grants from the Charities Aid Foundation). CAFnet is an on-going project.

The benefits of this active brokerage system are many fold but include:

- transparency

- it keeps the mentor network alive

- no time is wasted chasing mentors who don't have the time to support a particular initiative at a given time. If mentors don't have the time they don't put themselves forward.

- the client chooses who they want to help them

- the client has to engage in the process (ie they have to choose their mentor) BEFORE the support begins

Note: although the matching is done online, the actual mentoring is usually face to face with follow-up be telephone and email.

 

 

Innovation in accounting systems ??? !!!

I will post here an idea I have been harping on about for some time, who knows ...
I think that voluntary and community groups could benefit enormously from a solid accounting system that reflected their project based business model (notably multiple funding and reporting streams). Ideally this would take an existing open source package and enhance it, although well respected OS Accounts packages are not too common!
I'd like to see further extensions to include proper accounting for "in-kind" resources, having financial profiles (standard reports / open standards / meta data / passporting) defined to ease funding applications and similarly standard project accounting reports for funding bodies - all agreed with the major funders.
I know others are interested in this but it may not be innovative enough - no high technology, but it would make a difference!
Anyone else interseted in trying to make this happen by one means or another?

Open source accounting systems

Do the people commenting on this area use CITRA - Charity IT Resource Alliance

See this page

http://citra.org.uk/modules.php?name=Forums&file=viewforum&f=10

It might be worth your while using that to see what is happening in the field

 

Account software

I agree.

There was a project at BVSC and MOST that allowed projects to account for funding via various streams.

There is payroll software just released. Its statistics are the most respectable! http://www.paythyme.com/

Your suggestions for Open Standards in funding are excellent. Indeed this is a general area that is being debated at the moment and is very important with Microsoft's own Open Source project, an ODF plugin for Office2007. The implications of this debate are important, since the meta data held within these standards will allow machines to process data with greater 'understanding'.

Please can I get a copy of the powerpoint?

matthew@openitup.org

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