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Weeknotes 29 (3rd — 7th June)

It’s going to be a short one this week, starting with some signposting and news.

The Digital Fund team now has a Medium blog that we will be using for updates from the wider team, our support partners and our grantees. Hopefully it will become a go-to place for live action in digital grant making — riveting stuff, I’m sure!

I met with Nick Martlew this week (thank you Gemma and Catherine for connecting us). It was a brilliant chat for all kinds of reasons, primarily because we’ve both written about things like the value of networks, designing ecosystems and field-building. I’d recommend reading Creative Coalitions: A Handbook For Change which is Nick’s work on how to do large scale collaborating. It will be useful for Strand 1 of the Digital Fund where our grantees have committed to creating value in the wider ecosystems in which they are a part.

Tomorrow morning I’ll be at Designing 21st Century Government, which is a FutureGov event that I’m expecting to be relevant for Strand 1 of the Digital Fund and then heading over to CogX, The Festival of AI and Emerging Technology. It’s a 3 day event with so many sessions it’s hard to make any decision about which to go to. I’ll only be there on the first day afternoon and am looking forward to Martha’s talk on ‘We all have a responsibility to save the future’ and Beth Singler and Paul Mason talking about a ‘Clear Bright Future: A radical defence of the human being.’

Lastly, and sadly, I wanted to acknowledge Glen Mehn, who was a friend and previous collaborator. His wife Clare shared the news of Glen’s death last week, which whilst we all knew would happen after he was diagnosed with terminal cancer last December, came much more quickly than anyone was expecting. My favourite memory of Glen was when we went to Sarajevo together in 2011 to run a Social Innovation Camp in partnership with Internews. ❤️

What we’ve been doing

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This week was mainly —

I went to a workshop on the next steps for the Civil Society Futures Enquiry. I wrote my reflections on the work when it first came out, and I am keen to see how it is built upon. Especially as ways to make society stronger so that it can adapt, respond to and shape the future is pretty vital right now.

Dawn and I met with the Office of Civil Society to have a general catch up and to ensure that their Civil Society Strategy and ours are linking up where it makes sense to, and especially around digital which is a big focus for the Minister.

Kamna and I did a second Zoom call with lots of hospices. We have some design days coming up and wanted to do an initial scoping with the group of where we might focus efforts.

Continuing to write proposals for the July panel. I began to feel a bit like a teacher having papers to mark because of the paperwork involved, as well as a student having my papers marked when they go for peer review. It’s also an inefficient and frustrating process when not being able to use Google Docs internally for what is meant to be a collaborative process. This means versions of proposals are passed back and forth into folders with V1, V2, V3 and so on, when the function of Google Docs was created exactly for this reason! Team-wide commenting, editing and feedback is never going to happen efficiently on a series of Word documents.

What we’re learning

I feel like I’ve barely had time to reflect on this week and what we learnt.

The hospice experiment has already been a learning experience in terms of culture and behaviours in relation to collective problem-solving. We asked all the 42 hospices who applied to the fund if we could anonymise and then share key text from their applications, to do some collective sense-making together about overlapping need and opportunities. Only 7 out of 42 were willing to do this. We’ve started to talk with them to understand why that is — it’s something to be curious about rather than critical of, but it’s certainly a barrier to doing the kind of work we had intended.

“We should think of discovery as a culture, not just a phase.”

I shared Matt Edgar’s blog with the team, especially because I love the line above. This is exactly what we are investing in with Strand 1 of the Digital Fund — the cultures that social sector organisations need to build in order to undertake the scale of transition that is needed to be fit for the future.

What we’re celebrating

A small thing, but the team were all pleased when I finally agreed to use and get set up on a work mobile. It only took 6 months, but thanks to Govinder I now have Teams, calendar, work email etc all at my fingertips. I am not sure this is a good thing. We shall see.

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Written by

Senior Head, UK Portfolio at The National Lottery Community Fund & Co-founder of the Point People. Previously Strategic Design Director at Doteveryone.

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