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What does co-production mean for organisations?

One of the difficulties for pioneer co-producers is that they often seem to fly in the face of the way public services have been developing over the past generation.

They rely on face to face influence when the trend has been virtual.  They appeal to general skills when the trend has been increasingly specialist.  They believe in ordinary skills, amateur in the best sense, when the trend has been increasingly over-professionalised.

Most important perhaps, co-production relies on the idea that the users of services, and their families and neighbours, are a vast untapped resource – when the trend has been to regard them as drains on an overstretched system.

Because of this, co-production represents a seriously different idea of the future of public services. It also, it seems to me, represents a challenge to the prevailing view about how organisations work best – a different, and a better, understanding of efficiency.

I’ve been involved in these debates now for more than a decade and I kept on running into the same ideas, which seem to flow from co-production – they are where co-production ends up. New rules for running organisations, public and private (in my opinion).

That is why I’ve put it all down in a new book The Human Element: Ten New Rules for kickstarting our failing organ...These are the rules:

The ten new rules
Rule 1: Recruit staff for their personality not their qualifications
Rule 2: Dump the rulebooks and targets
Rule 3: Put relationships at the heart of organisations
Rule 4: Demerge everything
Rule 5: Obliterate the hierarchies and empires
Rule 6: Give people whole jobs to do
Rule 7: Chuck out the big IT systems
Rule 8: Give everyone the chance to feel useful
Rule 9: Make organisations into engines of regeneration
Rule 10: Localise everything

They are not co-production, but they seem to be implied by the co-production movement. What do you think?

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Comment by Ruth Dineen on November 1, 2011 at 15:28

Hi David

Love the rules - and their 'to the barricades' dynamism and directness. More power to your elbow! I'm involved in a project aiming to produce a practical Co-production Toolkit. I'd love to have your input. Please email me if you would like to contribute:


Comment by Claire Belgard on October 26, 2011 at 16:10
I completly agree with rule 3.  We were doing some work on a local estate a while ago and I got a long irate e-mail from a resident copied into everyone from the CEO / Leader of the Council down.  Panic by "reply to all" ensued until I popped round to see the resident on a Saturday afternoon, she was delighted, problem was solved but I was treated like I'd gone slightly mad!
Comment by james oflynn on October 24, 2011 at 16:12
I love rule number 1, I'm sure I have come across organisations that under this rule would instantaneously collapse, top down. Rule 8 is so simple but never really utilised in big organisations.

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