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A year of going boldly for Collaborate CIC

In January of this year we set ourselves a goal: to dedicate space and time to go boldly and imagine what a truly Collaborative Society would look and feel like. This came with a commitment to draw on the learning from our work and the collective wisdom of our partners, identifying ideas, thinking and practice that might represent green shoots of a more collaborative future. Looking back, it’s been an extraordinary exercise for our small organisation which many of you have been involved. We have now written a Manifesto for a Collaborative Society, which we will publish in January. And of course, we have more questions! So, we will continue to deepen this work in 2020 through both thinking and doing.
In this Christmas newsletter we wanted to offer you some of the highlights from the Collaborative Society work this year, and point to some of the work that has shaped our thinking.
Collaborative Society podcasts with Lord Victor Adebowale
This year we launched our first ever podcast series, with 9 guests from different backgrounds and perspectives, including Donna Hall, Emma Revie, Kevin Fenton and Sarah Gorman, sharing their insights on what society looks and feels like today, and what tomorrow’s Collaborative Society requires. We love these rich, honest, challenging and ultimately hopeful conversations.
Listen here
Collaborative Society Summer event with economist Kate Raworth

At our Collaborative Society event with ‘renegade economist’ Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics, Immy Kaur, system change activist and co-founder of Impact Hub Birmingham, Rebekah Sutcliffe, Strategic Director of Reform at Oldham Council, and Professor Duncan Green from the LSE and Oxfam each shared their perspectives on a Collaborative Society, and what it will take to bring it about. You can read the MJ’s editorial about the event here, and one attendee’s thoughtful reflections here.

Collaborative Society blogs
Throughout the year we invited others to write guest blogs, considering what a Collaborative Society looks like from their perspective. You can find them here.
Green shoots of a Collaborative Society in our work

Here are some of the highlights from our work with partners this year:

Collaborative leadership fit for the future: the Ignite System Leadership Programme and the Active Essex Collaborative Leadership programme

This year the Ignite system leadership programme for local authority Chief Executives has matured and developed still further, with the fourth and fifth cohorts running alongside one another. The leadership context becomes ever more complex, but we love working with thoughtful, reflective and curious Chief Executives who are not afraid to explore the challenges and what they mean for their leadership role and behaviours. We’re delighted to see participants continuing to work together and support each other after the end of the programme. We look forward to running the sixth cohort in 2020 and our first ever Ignite alumni event in March 2020. (Thanks to our partners Solace and the LGA).

We have also enjoyed designing and running our first ever place-based collaborative leadership programme with colleagues from Active Essex, part of the Sport England Local Delivery Pilot programme. This group has explored ideas such as leading without authority, building relationships and influencing, and we look forward to our continued partnership in 2020.
Embracing complexity

In March we published Exploring the new world: practical insights for funding, commissioning and managing in complexity, which shares findings and practical tools from nine months of action research and collaborative events with our partners at Newcastle Business School. The report has now been viewed over 9,500 times. Since its publication, we've spent a fascinating nine months working with funders, commissioners, charities and public service reformers across the country exploring how to develop a Human Learning Systems approach. We've also launched our Collaborative Commissioning support offer, and we're excited to be continuing our collaboration with Dr Toby Lowe and colleagues at Newcastle Business School in 2020 as we work with local partners to further our understanding of Human Learning Systems practice.

From collaboration to integration: Place-based health

We have begun our first significant piece of place-based health work with a West London borough, exploring the system conditions needed for successful integration of health and care and helping both system leaders and frontline staff to build those conditions in practice. We have learned a huge amount through this ongoing work and are looking forward to working with more places to develop collaborative approaches to place-based health in 2020.
Convenors and connectors: the NESTA/Collaborate Upstream Collaborative

For some time, we have been searching for a way to bring pioneers of public service reform together to learn from each other’s work, understand the connections between different initiatives and collaborate in moving the work forward. This year we were delighted to begin working in partnership with Nesta to develop the Upstream Collaborative, a group of 20 leading councils, 50 public service leaders, from all corners of the country, who will work together over at least the next six months. We love this work because spaces to think and connect are vital enablers of change, and because we can see the movement for public service reform growing. We will continue to support this group into next year and will be publishing reflections as we go.
Valuing learning as a driver for improvement: Cornerstone and Save UK

Creating learning frameworks as a tool for improvement and adaptation in complex, multi-stakeholder environments has been a core part of our work this year. As part of our role as the learning partner to Cornerstone Fund and learning and evaluation partner to Save the Children UK’s Early Learning Communities (in partnership with NPC) we have developed frameworks that combine changes in outcomes for people with changes in the health of the system, to help our partners learn from their system change practice. We will continue to support these partners in 2020 to create a learning culture, develop a systems change mindset and learn about systems change progress. We are also busy creating learning frameworks for other parts of the system and will be hosting a roundtable on learning and evaluation in complexity early next year, to help shape practice in this emerging field.
The power of place: Cambridgeshire, Gateshead, Kirklees, Brent and the London Boroughs of Barking & Dagenham and Sutton

As always, we are committed to helping partners realise the potential of place. Through our long-term partnerships with places such as Cambridgeshire, Gateshead, Kirklees, Brent and the London Boroughs of Barking & Dagenham and Sutton we continue to develop a long-term, collaborative approach to addressing complex challenges and collaborative organisations that are ready to work in new ways.
We have worked with Kirklees to develop their approach to place-based working, and with the London Borough of Brent to strengthen their relationships with their local voluntary + community organisations. Experience has taught us that by uncovering and leveraging the assets of the wider system and place we are far more likely to address the root causes and be able to innovate for social change. We will continue to work with these places in 2020 and look forward to supporting others who are interested in developing and embedding ambitious approaches to place-based change. 
Join us in 2020!

So, as you can see, it has been a full year for the growing Collaborate team, and we are searching for another new team member to join us in early 2020. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more! For now, we would like to wish you all a very happy and restful holiday.
Thank you for your support over the past year, happy holidays, and we look forward to connecting in 2020!
The Collaborate team


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