In July 2018, we hosted the latest NLGN Innovation Exchange at our London office. Participants from local authorities came together to discuss how we transform the relationship between councils and their residents for the better.
Since 2008, FutureGov has explored the ways we can improve engagement between councils and the people they serve. Either through communication channels, the services delivered or the way councils work with communities, building strong relationships is an important way of creating lasting change.
Not all local needs are the same
The need to create better public services is clear. A cut and paste approach to service delivery doesn’t work.
We must work hard to understand local needs in different ways because the priorities from one place to the next are not always the same. By taking a place-based approach to solving problems, we can uncover the different obstacles councils face in their areas. Whether it’s supporting leadership buy-in across partner organisations, or building collaborative relationships with communities to better understand local challenges, we need to find the opportunities to create sustainable change.
Taking a design-led approach
FutureGov always applies a design-led, user-centred approach, supported by ethnographic research. Investing the time to understand the lived realities of residents and empathise with their needs, councils become active community members, showing a willingness to build trusting relationships. With a strong foundation for better relationships and change, we can start open and honest conversations about the challenges public services face.
We’ve also found that aligning how an organisation works to the services it delivers–using this as an organising principle–is the most effective way to keep a clear focus on user needs, impact and delivering better outcomes. But it requires learning new skills, ways of working and governance structures to make these organisational changes effective and sustainable.
It’s time to change
At a time when communities are divided over complex issues and councils face increasing austerity, it’s more important than ever to redefine and rebuild relationships between councils and citizens.
Together, we need to build new ways of working through better, user-centred services externally and creating the right culture, skills and technology internally to ensure the ongoing support of these services. Only then, by focusing on citizen needs, will be able to build better, lasting relationships.