How we are learning from and building Barry Ideas Bank
Barry Ideas Bank is an online resource designed to bring people together to work- both online and offline- on improving our community. This is the second blog from Andy Green, the brains behind the Barry Ideas Bank.
While planning for and building Barry’s IdeasBank we have come up against a fair few hurdles. We have learned from every challenge and these have helped us to improve the project on the way.
- Vibrancy. In the reality of innovation, the world may not instantly recognise your genius. Vibrancy is crucial in encouraging interest and engagement and so I am aiming to Tweet several times a day and add new content to the site most days.
- WIIFM Most professional online forums, such as the RSA’s or LinkedIn Groups, will have a professional networking incentive to motivate taking part - a What’s-In-It-For-Me. In contrast, a community online forum’s appeal is largely altruistic or could be imbedded in local politics. However, together we are working to develop a community that we can all benefit from.
- The ‘People-don’t-typically-write-to-their-local-newspaper’ syndrome. A typical committed community activist has a strong will, self-belief and confidence in putting their heads above the parapet to speak out.
Unfortunately, they are not typical in a community. Study the names and addresses in your local weekly newspaper and it is the usual suspects. Posting your thoughts on the IdeasBank is almost the equivalent to writing to your local newspaper. People are, however, more likely to Tweet an idea or a response - perhaps encouraged by the instancy, ease of use, or greater informality of the medium.
- Persistence. In sales there is a rule of thumb that any sale is preceded by seven quality encounters. Getting someone to take action usually takes a similar number of persistent reminders. This is why we need a team of dedicated people running the IdeasBank.
- Avoid self-righteousness. There is also a danger of appearing over-earnest and self-important. To provide a counter balance to the site’s formality I recently introduced ‘A funny thing happened in Barry’ – encouraging people to make more informal and fun contributions.
- Make it real. Ideas without action are dreams. There is a need to develop a process around the content so that the IdeasBank offers a pathway for realisation. If the IdeasBank is seen both as a space to make your view known and also where you can make a difference, it would transform its prospects.
So, going forward, what do we want to do differently?
- Make it a channel for new ways of doing The vision is to integrate the use of IdeasBanks into everyday public service delivery. ‘Prebuttal is the new rebuttal’: instead of doing things with little or no consultation, and just imposing them on a community, the IdeasBank offers a facility for consultation and engagement prior to action. Potential problems, or opportunities to make the idea even better, can be identified by using the IdeasBank at the outset of any planned activity.
- Make it an avenue or a springboard - not a cul de sac. Rather than just providing a conduit for information, the ability of the Ideasbank to further engage and enable needs to be exploited.
- Extend the size of the network. We need more registered users and more followers. The more people you can connect within the most traditional form of communication - face-to-face, the greater you can secure a deeper commitment to try something new and encourage people to put their heads above the parapet.
- Nurture a team of Connectors. We need to engage with hundreds, if not thousands, but at the core of your community you need a team of dedicated people, linking their ideas, knowledge and network connections. We have got three or four Connectors in place. We need more.
- Share the learning. If each of us have a pound and give each other our pound, none of us are richer. However if we each have an idea and give each other our ideas, we are all richer – so share your learning. We may not be there yet, but hopefully our community will be a richer place as a result of the Barry IdeasBank.
For further information on the Barry IdeasBank project, visit: www.yourideasbank.org.uk
Andy Green FRSA