The “Beyond the Usual Suspects – real Influence matters” conference proved a very successful day. Hosted by London Civic Forum and TCC, it was attended by over 100 people representing 20+ London Boroughs as well as a range of government agencies, think tanks, NGOs and third sector organisations

The keynote speaker was Phillip Blond of the think tank ResPublica, well-known as a key thinker involved in concepts such as the Big Society, who gave his vision of the future of local services and local engagement, sparking off an animated debate on how the practicalities of empowering civic associations could work on the ground. Phillip described the TCC report as starting to fill the middle ground between where we are and the vision he outlined, and welcomed the practical emphasis on front line staff interactions and the real potential for councils to turn reactive encounters into proactive engagement

Cultural Dynamics asked attendees to fill in a questionnaire to determine their values set. They were then able to show immediately and visually the extent to which the values of those whose job it is to engage differ markedly from the majority of the communities which they are trying to engage. Indeed over 67% of people present at the conference were in one the sub-segments with the most inner directed values, whilst Cultural Dynamics own research shows that up to 60% of the population do not have such values as their principal values set, being far more driven by extrinsic or security and safety values.

Ipsos MORI provided a detailed picture of the national research around influence, using their ‘frontiers of performance’ modelling to compare statistical expectations of different local authority areas with reality, highlighting some difficulties with measuring influence and suggesting some possible ways forward, and reinforcing the importance of perceptions of influence as a driver of satisfaction and quality of life.

TCC‘s key findings and recommendations drew insights from Values Modes segmentation and fall into three points:

  • The need for councils to understand different people’s motivations for and expectations of involvement and how these are driven by their values,
  • The need to change the culture of institutions to build trust through effective, personal front line interactions,
  • The need to open up engagement to embrace a more discursive model where people can air their views about the issues that concern them, set the agenda and disseminate their positive experiences and messages by word of mouth

Workshop sessions produced a great deal of consensus around challenges and responses, and interesting and innovative ideas around
making better use of front line staff to engage with the public and improving internal understanding of the role of engagement

The final speaker of the day was Sam McLean of the RSA who provided a powerful speech which he was unable to deliver in person but which was previewed by TCC‘s David Evans. Drawing equally from philosophy and his own roots and experience, the speech explored the importance of civic health previewing a forthcoming RSA report .

Finally instant feedback from participants was given from a VideoQube “diary room” held at lunchtime on the themes of the workshop was shown at the end to round off the day.

Further information, including videos,  presentations and documents will shortly be loaded on to the TCC website.

Charlie Mansell is Research and Development Officer for the Campaign Company He would like to thank TCC Project Officer Majeed Neky for his work both delivering the conference and the information that contributed to much of this blog posting

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