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Shifting behaviour and improving outcomes with our communities

3 big ideas to shift behaviours and improve outcomes with our communities

Ultimately for me anything we do has to be focused on the ‘so what?’ question. I think there are three areas that, if we really focused on, we could make a difference.

Innovation, spread and learning

We need a radically different way of delivering public services with communities and to do this we need to encourage innovation, experimentation and then spread the ideas that work and learn from the ones that do both across organisations and with communities. Here are some ideas how:

Creativity Flashmobs

this is a great and simple way of harnessing the energy of the crowd in a quick and creative way. Read Krystyna Gadd’s article for the Training Journal to learn more here

Collaborating Out Loud

Through the work I have done with Kev and Julia and the Collaborate Out Loud gang we have developed an approach to how we collaborate out loud and this is a great and simple tool that can be used to spread learning and innovation across different boundaries.

this process is constantly being iterated but here is the current model

Reverse Mentoring

What is reverse mentoring

Reverse mentoring uses all the same skills as mentoring but rather than someone who has already perhaps followed a career path mentoring someone who is embarking or part way through a journey being the mentor, the one at the start mentors the experienced leaders.

What needs to be in place to make it work:

  • Defined expectations
  • Agreed upon rules
  • Willingness to learn
  • Trust
  • Transparency


  • Closes the knowledge gap for both parties
  • Empowers emerging and established leaders
  • Brings different employee generations closer together

Collaborative readiness

In order to collaborate effectively we need to develop a mindset of collaboration but also ensure that the system and partners who are collaborating have the resilience, support and skills to make the most of collaboration. Here are some ideas on how:

  • Create an open dialogue about what gets in the way of collaboration
  • Diagnose the barriers in place and coach leaders to develop a growth mindset
  • Draw on the strengths of natural collaborators
  • Pay attention to the small stuff
  • Talk about the emotion of collaboration and what this tells us as leaders
  • Build empathy rather than sympathy
  • Experiment with letting go on small things first
  • Explore levels of trust across boundaries
  • Learn about collaboration from effective community leaders

Networking the networks

Networking the networks has the most potential for enabling change at pace and scale. If we want to spread the innovation and collaborate then creating connections across unusual suspects, develop strong and weak ties and creating opportunities for networks that wouldn’t normally connect to come together (both virtually and face to face) is essential. There is a role to connect and broker but then the trick is to get out of the way and let the magic happen.

  • Developing cross sector communities and networks using social tools like Yammer and NoddlePod
  • Creating platforms for networks to cross, weave and connect
  • Link the # for impact
  • Draw upon the strengths of your social butterflies to cross pollinate between networks
  • Network with the unusual suspects and don’t just look at professional and organisational networks but those in the communities we serve
  • Pay attention to community roles when developing networks for greatest impact

What is essential to underpin all of this is:

  • Capacity – creating space for leaders at all levels to do the ground work that will enable the practical integration work to follow
  • Capability – ensuring that leaders and the OD community are developed with the latest thinking on formal, informal and social learning
  • Confidence – support leaders to develop the confidence to experiment, fail, learn and keep going. Resilience is part of this but it also about self belief and being able to put learning into practice with energy and passion.


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