Project Initiation

These blog posts describe the process we have worked through between April 15- April 16 to develop a project we called ‘The Big Idea’. The approach we took when developing this project was new to staff at Iriss. We normally devise projects promoted by Scottish Government policy and gaps we see that align with out skills and interests. Whilst our work is well received some staff members from the I&I programme wanted to understand whether our work became part of people’s practice and had an impact on people’s lives. To reach this kind of understanding the members of this programme believed we needed to re-design how we developed our work. Inspired by projects such as The Life Programme designed by Participle, we decided we needed to get to know people who lived in a particular place and listen to what they said they needed to improve the quality of their lives. We anticipated that people would then use our knowledge, skills and experience to work towards the changes they wanted to experience. For this reason we sought to co-design a project, the focus of which would be decided by people who lived in a particular place.

There was a great deal of energy and enthusiasm for this proposal from the Innovation and Improvement team members, however other staff members were more cautious. As we anticipated all Iriss staff members skills, knowledge and experience would be available to the people we would work with on this project a rough idea of how the project may unfold was developed with the Iriss Director and Evidence Informed practice and Knowledge Media Programme Managers. These initial ideas were described on a video which was shared internally with the whole staff team which suggested how the nuts and bolts of the project could manifest, such as the: length of the work; how we would meet people and understand their local context; kinds of jobs Iriss staff may need to do during this time; commitment and responsibilities of our partners; and how we would support ourselves during this new, complex, responsive way of working.

As is common when developing initial ideas for work which embarks into new territory and which relies upon the knowledge of our future partners (who were were yet to meet!), the creation and interpretations of this pitch generated more questions than answers. Whilst also being met with interest mixed in with some healthy scepticism. The main question that derived from the pitch being “What do we mean by place?”, and “How do we identify a place and/or people who recognise and understand this place”?

A question that gave us the impetus and first foothold to develop the idea for this approach to an Iriss project further.