Sunbeam Area: System change

SUNBEAM 12: Be ready to change the way your organisation work

The various steps of the co-creation chain typically fall into the remit of different administrative units (communication, construction, maintenance, evaluation, …). Cross-departmental collaboration is fundamental for smooth processes. Personal relations between people in different departments are crucial.

Mailing lists, regular meetings, joint use of software help. However, sometimes a more fundamental shift in the logic and structure of organisations (like the city administration or the transport agency) must take place. Organisations needs structured processes to identify and analyse barriers and put resources towards dismantling them. Management must be willing and ready to deal with systemic problems. 

Many times, there is no time to implement major organisational changes during a specific project. This results in unmet project goals and a lot of energy spent on temporary workarounds. But if a culture favourable to changes is in place, the failure of one project paves the way to the success of the following ones.

SUNBEAM 18: Start, even small: co-creation will sustain itself

The process and the success of co-creation depends on many actors, whose role is not always clearly defined at the onset. Creating together builds mutual trust, among residents and between the residents and the municipality, and gives shape to the process itself, also defining the roles of each participant.

Trust and a clear role increase the willingness to be involved. Trust, willingness to participate, individual contributions grow when people working together see the fruit of their work. Even small scale but visible and quick results can boost the co-creation process. Residents and local stakeholders start feeling that they really have partners to work with in the community and in the local authority, and strive for more change.

Enthusiasm of participants and visible results generate interests also beyond the boundaries of the neighbourhood and of the departments of the departments initially involved, so the co-creation approach and the ideas it has generated start to spread on a larger scale. Co-creation ambassadors can facilitate the transfer.

SUNBEAM 13: Ensure staff continuity and adequate handover processes

Changes of the staff working on a project generates problems in any context. It is particularly problematic in the context of co-creation processes, where personal relationships are crucial to build up and maintain networks and trust. Furthermore, co-creation is a new way of working for city administrations and it takes time for staff to get acquainted with its concepts, principles, and tools.

Ensuring staff continuity is of paramount importance to take co-creation processes to completion successfully and timely. When turnover cannot be avoided, shadowing of the leaving staff and suitable handover procedures must be put in place, including the introduction of the new staff to the networks of residents and local stakeholders.

SUNBEAM 19: Allow time to evaluate your measures

People need time to adjust their behaviours and adapt their life or mobility patterns to the measures implemented in a co-creation project. This is particularly true for measures aiming to change established habits (like the use of cars, normally involving long term investments that people may not be available to abandon in the short term) or complex behaviours (like when parents must take children to school, then go to work, and finally shop on the way back home). The immediate changes after the implementation might not give a correct idea of the changes yielded by some measures.

A full evaluation may not be feasible in the lifetime of a co-creation project. To understand the real impacts and whether they endure over time, it is recommended to conduct a long-term evaluation of measures five years after the completion of a project.

SUNBEAM 20: Go beyond the current CIVITAS framework for evaluation

The existing CIVITAS evaluation framework cannot be directly applied to the evaluation of outputs in co-creation neighbourhood projects. The scale and diversity of measures and the complex ways in which they were derived and implemented in a co-creation effort often require a more flexible and bespoke approach to evaluation, not so much focused on measurements and indicators but on social aspects, processes, and people. A framework of less technical nature will also be better understood, accepted, and applied by cities and other participating stakeholders.