Alissa Davies: I’ve learnt that… strategy should never lose sight of the people using the service
Updated: Apr 15, 2021
I have learnt that when designing strategies, you should never lose sight of the people using public services. I’ve worked on a lot of strategies for changing public services. It’s very easy to get bogged down in the detail of producing the ‘perfect’ document without creating a meaningful and shared understanding of what needs to change and why.
I’ve learnt that the best way of making a strategy is an unrelenting focus on the people and communities it affects. Stories and personal experience can change the culture in a way that writing documents just can’t. It’s always personal to someone, and the job of developing a strategy is to make it personal to everyone delivering the service.
Domestic abuse is a really good example of this. The police will respond to an incident, and children’s social care will intervene if the child is at risk of harm. But helping the whole family before they hit crisis point is everyone and no-one’s responsibility.
I’ve known all of this in theory for ten years. But it felt different to me once I had a child of my own. In the first lockdown my child learnt to walk and talk, all within three months. A delay of weeks or months in giving a family the help they need – or never giving them that support at all – can have devastating consequences for children. I only really understood what that meant by hearing real stories and comparing them to my own real situation.
When developing strategies for public services, we must invest the time to understand first-hand what people really need, and what isn’t working for them. This, alongside money, is the best way of making improvements. Sometimes the answer is simple – but only if you ask the right questions in the first place.
To learn more about our strategy work contact Alissa firstname.lastname@example.org.
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