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A bunch of diagrams about co-production

(From Noreen:) These are diagrams that I use when I do presentations and workshops about co-production, in case they come in useful for you too!

  • If you haven’t got both the people providing services and the people using them around the table, then it’s simply not co-production. (Especially when professionals are working together across organisations, it’s not co-production if citizens aren’t involved. It’s collaboration, which is an important part of the whole approach – because to co-produce properly with citizens, organisations need to collaborate effectively – but let’s be clear on semantics!)


  • When and when not to use co-production? Co-production is absolutely the right thing to address complex/wicked problems, but not simple or complicated ones that are linear and have predictable outcomes. (And we’re not talking here about emergency situations.) For more on this check out complexity theory and the Cynefin model.


  • This is like the ladder of participation (Shelley Arnstein, 1969), but turned on its side. The ladder sort of implies that everyone should be aspiring to co-production all of the time with everyone, but actually
    a) like in the complexity theory diagram above co-production is perfect for some kinds of challenges (so depending on what you are trying to achieve, co-production isn’t necessarily the best approach available to you) and
    b) you have to meet people where they are. Even when you’re taking a co-production approach sometimes it’s the right thing to do to or for depending on the capacity of the people involved, and sometimes you scaffold people and bring them along and get to work with them, and their life changes and they may fall back to for or to – and that’s ok.
    It’s most important to have the wisdom to do the right thing at the right time, in a proportionate and appropriate response.


  • In the same vein (of meeting people where they are) you have to start with what matters to people: their lives and their personal outcomes. Once those are satisfied, some (not all) might be interested in staying involved, and extending their voice and influence to issues that affect their community or their neighbourhood. And out of those, some (depending on available capacity, and skills and interests) will be willing to get involved at strategic level, in the things that matter to your organisation. You can’t simply drop a service user into a strategic board, with the workload of documents and levels of conversations/decisions involved, and expect them to thrive without building them up to it and supporting them to be comfortable in the process.
    (Caveat: the only way you can go straight to strategic level, is with sufficient resources: e.g. citizen panels or citizen juries. Otherwise if you don’t have money to invest in setting those up, people have to grow organically into the roles through building trust and commitment along the way.)

  • This is a really handy diagram to highlight the difference between outputs (can usually be measured and counted easily) and outcomes (the difference they make to people’s lives). For example a fantastic triple chocolate cake could be a terrible outcome if the person it’s for is gluten and dairy intolerant! And to find out what a good outcome is you need to ask the person it is for.


  • Co-production isn’t something else that you have to do on top of what you normally do. It’s how you do what you do. And it helps you do it better!



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