Yesterday I attended the IDeA Knowledge Hub Advisory Group in London at the IDeA offices.
Before today my only awareness of the hub was based on sporadic conversations with Steve Dale, which sparked enough interest for me to talk to colleagues internally and see the opportunities for the hub to solve a wide range of business issues being raised in my council.
It really has the potential to transform how the public sector and in-particular local government can share learning and collaborate on improving services. It will mean some pretty fundamental challenges to how practitioners get involved in sharing experiences and practices that a peer community can promote as practice worth repeating.
But also the hub sets out a new direction for the IDeA itself from:
The IDeA supports improvement and innovation in local government. We work with local authorities and their partners to develop and share good practice. We do this through networks, online resources, and support from councillor and officer peers – quote directly off the IDeA website
The khub transforms that relations and reverses their whole business model to one which gives control and ownership of the practice, publishing and content creation to the local government sector. A model that in time could signal the end of the IDeA as we know it today. It would essentially reposition the organisation to one which facilitates the knowledge creation and supports practitioners through learning and training programmes. But also the hub in time could be even bigger than that and could lead to being part of a more open, transparent government and foster a real knowledge sharing culture in the sector and wider. All based around story telling and first hand learning.
So I guess you may be asking “what is the knowledge hub?” Well conceptually that is sort of straight forward to explain but at this point in time practically what it takes is some diagrams and some excellent presentations from Steve Dale and Ingrid Koehler.
Steve Dales slides
Ingrid Koehler slides on Social Media Strategy
The Advisory Group itself was quite small but mainly due to other commitments not through interest, although it did have some usual suspects in and around the social media movement.
What i think some of the major challenges will be in relation to the Khub is the change in the underlying culture that restricts or stops people from sharing practice worth repeating and individual learning experiences. This is essentially the challenge to allow conversations and people to connect in new innovative ways without imposing barriers or silos over them to restrict those conversations.
I believe that everyone in all parts of the public sector understand the need for improvement and the challenge in identifying where and how improvement might occur, but if we could create and foster a culture that made learning a natural and fundamental part of our work i believe the Khub would revolutionise the sector as a whole. We also recognise the power of the social networks (offline) we are all part of that help us do our work and contribute to our learning. The opportunity is to widen those networks and to use the technology to connect people to conversations they may not have had access to.
There are also challenges within each council or public sector body, as it isn’t always straight forward and easy to surface the current practice that happens on the front lines, as most practice is often documented by policy officers who then rework policy to try and drive improvement, this process however is flawed because of the time it takes to go through that cycle.
The opportunity the Khub could provide is access to “live” improvement and learning information. We would then need to understand how our processes could and should change to allow progressive change and improvement and the policy aspect needs to be more fluid and dynamic to enable the freedom for front line practitioners to continuously improve their services.
The whole thing is exciting but yet huge and overpowering at this point in time, the great thing about being part of the advisory group is that we can contribute to the development and see this whole thing grow from the bottom up. It also allows those involved to see things happening and not continually get distracted by the huge opportunities and challenges.
We need to take one step at a time and the next steps are influence the requirements and inform the procurement process.
A continuous task for the group as a whole is the promotion of this project, well in fact this programme of work across the public sector. This truly is a “business project” and not a technology project.
There are so many things going around my head since leaving the advisory group yesterday, and i will write a few more blogs as my thoughts clear and i am able to make sense of them. but in the meantime I’ll leave the final words to Steve and Ingrid who were captured on video by David Wilcox – Social Reporter