Weeknotes #4

This last week I had some really interesting and fruitful discussions with people. I’m really grateful to Jane Foulkes and Steve Woodfine for their advice and ideas of how we can build capability and capacity around the Well-being of Future Generations Act within our particular context.

I am really keen for it not to be seen as a ‘thing’, something to comply with. As soon as we move into ‘compliance’ territory, it becomes a process and not a way of working, a lens through which we approach all of our work. My initial ideas are to start with the big picture stuff and the importance of seeing things holistically, appealing to hearts and minds, and then move on to connecting it to the Vision for Sport Wales and Sport Wales’ new strategy. Both of these documents have been developed with the Act in mind, so there is a really nice connect. It is also an opportunity to bring it to life within a context that is real and every day. I also intend to draw on the great resources that we have developed as part of the Future Generations Commissioner’s flagship programme, Art of the Possible. If you haven’t seen the various ‘Journeys to well-being…’ for each of the Goals and the Involvement way of working, they’re definitely worth checking out. So far, two have been published: Journey to a Globally Responsible Wales and Journey to a Resilient Wales. They provide very practical and tangible suggestions for organisations to work with the principles of the Act.

I would be very grateful for any feedback, and any suggestions or learning of how you are building capacity and capability within your organisation. If something has worked for you, please do share! As we progress with this work, I will also share how we’re getting on, any lessons etc.

I am proud to be part of the Wales Centre for Public Policy’s Public Services Reference Group. As a group we offer advice about the evidence needs, and comment on the Centre’s activities and outputs, providing constructive challenge, promoting active involvement in the work, and championing the adoption and application of the evidence they generate.

If you haven’t checked out the Centre’s work, please do so. Here, you can find links to their publications. Some of the recent topics include: At the Tipping Point: Welsh Local Government and Austerity; Powers and Policy Levers – what works in delivering Welsh Government policies?; Analysis of the Factors Contributing to the High Rates of Care in Wales; Improving Cross-cutting Working. The Centre has also just launched a podcast – PEP Talks: policy, evidence and practice. Again, this is worth checking out!

We met this week and one of the things we discussed was the age old issue for those of us who produce or synthesise evidence, how do we ensure there is engagement in the evidence, that it’s understood, applied, and used to shape policy and practice? The Centre’s work is highly relevant to those of us working in the public sector; it also relevant to anyone involved in the delivery of public services. So, what would you like to see? How could the Centre help you engage in the evidence they produce? They’re really keen to hear your views and any practical suggestions that you have.

I was disappointed to hear this week that due to funding, the Alliance for Useful Evidence’s Evidence Champions project is coming to an end. Evidence from behavioural insights highlights the importance of the ‘messenger’ and the role of social networks in any process designed to change attitudes and behaviours. It is because of this, the Alliance, has been supporting a cross-sectoral network of Evidence Champions, of which I am proud to be one, to raise awareness of the role of evidence, promote the effective use of evidence in policy-making or practice, and help them to have more impact. Just because the project is ending, doesn’t mean the need is not there. There are ‘evidence champions’ in all organisations and if you are one of those, please check out the Alliance’s work, they have a range of resources to help support you. Perhaps you could establish an informal network within your own organisation?

Linked to all of this, is the importance of critical thinking. We need to think carefully about the information and evidence we need to solve a problem and think more strategically about how to apply it to our decision-making and actions. This intentional thought helps convert data into knowledge and wisdom. If you’re interested in this topic, please check out a blog I have written on Critical Thinking: the skill we all need.

Here’s some photos that represent my week:

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Things I have learnt and/or reaffirmed this week:

The importance of critical thinking

What am I committing to do:

Asking more open questions

Podcasts that I have listened to:

Fortunately… with Fi and Jane. A return to inner curls and contrarians with Emily Maitlis

Reasons to be Cheerful with Ed Miliband and Geoff Lloyd. Til Debt Do Us Part: the case for personal debt write-off

About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge. White Season, part 1

About Race with Reni Eddo-Lodge. White Season, part 2

How to Fail with Elizabeth Day. Francesca Segal

How to Fail with Elizabeth Day. Dame Kelly Holmes

Four Thought. Identity Through Reading

Soul Music. Back to Black

Good Practice Exchange Podcast. Rupert Moon on sport and improving well-being, and Professor Hutchings on KiVa Programme

PEP Talk. Youth Homelessness

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