The #demsoc10 post we planned for today has been slightly delayed by engineering works and Storm Ciara, so tonight Anthony looks back at our first project in Scotland.
Demsoc started life in Brighton, and our first office and team was based there. Much of our early work was with local government, and we’ll share some reflections on our Zero Heroes project later in the week, but quite early on we started talking to the Scottish Government. This was in the midst of the referendum campaign on Scottish independence, but the open government team there knew that, whatever the result, there was a need to work in different and more collaborative ways.
This attitude is reflected in “the Scottish Approach to Government“, putting participation (along with asset-based thinking and improvement) at the heart of Scotland’s service delivery model.
As part of this strand of thinking, we worked with the Scottish Government in summer 2014 to run a workshop on Collaborative Government, looking at trends in government and how the Scottish government and its partners could respond to them. The discussions covered the benefits of collaboration and participation; examples of effective collaboration; how joint work between government and civil society can encourage people to participate effectively in the decision which affect them; and areas where Government could experiment with collaborative working.
The full report of the event is still online.
As with so many of our older projects, the interest lies not in the conclusions we came to, but in how new those conclusions seemed at the time and how mainstream they seem now. You achieve more than you think in ten years, and less than you think in one year, as someone said. While collaborative governance is not a reality in Scotland quite yet, some of the work that we have since been involved in, on participatory budgeting, on the current Citizen Assembly, and on the internal framework for participative government show that we are a lot closer than we were (and if the saying is true, we still have four years).