Lessons learned in place-based working from Lankelly Chase
- 12 November 2018
- Posted by: Helen Nicol
- Category: News
Independent foundation Lankelly Chase have spent the last 18 months conducting an experiment in the sphere of place-based systems transformation. They took an approach that was deliberately open and responsive to establishing and changing systemic behaviours through funding institutions and individuals:
We had a learning partner, a group of Associates with a range of skills/expertise and a few partners in local places. We didn’t have a definitive plan or process. We knew the why. We knew the system behaviours. We had an initial sense of the how – working with associates to start conversations – we didn’t have a sense of the where next. We wanted to start with a range of options as we didn’t want to lock ourselves into one approach too quickly. We wanted to experiment and try out different things – and for it to be responsive to what people locally said.
We envisaged a ‘core team’ of associates, talking to partners locally, holding up mirror to what is going on in places and supporting them to start seeing their local systems. The brief for them was wide. We imagined that they would call on each other and us as they grappled with the local issues. We imagined that we would fade out once we had the associates in place. We imagined that the people in places would make their decisions on the change needed.
What’s especially interesting isn’t just that Lankelly Chase found that many of their imaginings fell short of reality, but also that they’re willing to talk about the lessons they’ve learned the hard way. These include admitting that they “occupied their role poorly” (while their hands-off approach was well-intended, it left their associates somewhat in the lurch, leading them to realise that “we need to collectively hold the process and work alongside associates and local partners as co-inquirers”), coming to an understanding that methodological flexibilities are best accommodated by frameworks of process (“if you don’t know what to do and want to embrace uncertainty and remain open to what emerges, then clarity is needed elsewhere”), and noting that creating spaces for people to come together and develop new relationships and understandings is a particularly promising strategy.