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#10: Creating new operating models for cities with Jenni Lloyd

#10: Creating new operating models for cities with Jenni Lloyd

Cities are ‘serendipity engines’ and ‘social super colliders’ as well as vital places that we live, according to our expert guest Jenni Lloyd - but are the operating models used to deliver our city services and governance fit for a world of continued social change and austerity in public spending? Instead, how can we build better communities and places?

"Austerity has dictated that there's scarcity, but actually there's almost an infinite abundance within communities, and the local authorities that have realized that have taken a very different approach"

In her work recently at the innovation foundation NESTA, thinker, advisor and strategist Jenni and her team published the six part New Operating Models for Local Government. Behind the scenes they spoke with frontline innovators finding new interesting ways to deliver public services in cities, many in communities the North of England, who have been collaborating to develop new responses based on fundamental questions like “What is the contract between the city and the citizen?” and “What is a good place, what is a good life?”, linking together ‘anchor institutions’ like local hospitals, police and other social services in helpful new ways.

By the end of this conversation you’ll be looking at your own cities as serendipity engines, as networks, as a holistic system and above all as places changing, right now.




Automated transcript

So Jenni, you have a great history. And it would be brilliant, if you could just share, not the hour, the hour long version, but the which you warned it could take which, but if you could give us a brief potted history of Jenni Lloyd maybe starting from the beginning,

Jenni Lloyd 2:26

at the very beginning, 1968, I did a fine art degree. And I went to art college, and primarily to leave home and spent three years making things and with varying degrees of success. And then I left art college with a degree in fine art, which isn't a particularly saleable commodity. And I found my way to Brighton kind of randomly, because I wanted to not go home to where my parents live, because it's very boring. And I didn't want to stay where it was, because it's boring. So I came to Brighton, and I'm still in Brighton. So Brighton is important to me. But um, I think my first job out of college was cleaning toilets on the pier. And, and so I had no idea what I wanted to do, I had no idea what was available to me. And looking back at it. And I had had some stupid ideas like this whole thing about truth to materials and how I wouldn't use computers. And bearing in mind, obviously, that this is almost kind of before the internet. But, um, that kind of fell by the wayside when I got involved in. Again, just kind of serendipitously, like, randomly, I started using computers, because I was working for the local newspaper to process images. And I realised that a lot of the kind of artwork that I was still making, which is all kind of collage II, based that I could actually do in Photoshop. And, and that led me into years worth of kind of digital design and production. And, and I think I've always thought that my works followed the, the, what's the word, evolution of the web? So initially, just about interfaces. So how do people use things? And how can I make them do the thing that we want them to do online? And then kind of it got more social? And that that was really interesting, because then we started thinking about well, how to how do these things that we're using digitally, and map into what we do collectively anyway, so how to communities work, and how can we provide online spaces where people can behave as communities, and what does that mean for businesses? So you were there for that? And so it meant a lot for businesses. And I think I look back on in those early days of naivety about what we thought the social web might engender, with obviously no knowledge of where we would end up in terms of, you know, kind of Cambridge analytic or, and all those sorts of things. But we did have a notion that digital stuff would be massively impactful in terms of society and politics and relationships between individuals and businesses, and all that sort of thing. And when obviously, we were thinking that it would have a largely positive effect, and had no insight into what the kind of negative effects would be. Anyway, so I spent years as a kind of digital designer, producer, then user experience designer, and then eventually as a kind of consultant for organisations that were trying to make themselves more fit for a digital world. And so it's funny because digital transformation now has, you know, like a legacy in history. But at the time, those were new terms, I think social media was new term, when we were first working in it, there was debate over whether that was actually the right term, and it seems extraordinary now. But anyway, so things like the cluetrain manifesto were really important. And the way that we were trying to run ourselves democratically was really important and aligned to the way that we thought the web was going to make the world. And it felt like an opportunity to change the world. But and, but to do it through business, and, and the web. And so that was obviously enormously exciting. And not necessarily Well, you know, successful in terms of kind of growing a big business or whatever. But it certainly led me down really interesting routes, in terms of human behaviour, and the intersection between how we work together, collectively, but also how the internet kind of affects that. And so

over a period of time, I decided to shift from thinking about business and innovation, and all those kind of fairly logical, hard terms and thinking about how does, how do you use those tools to change society. And sounds quite grand and aspirational, I have say, none of this was a plan, it will just emerged. And the more I've kind of come to think about what I do and how I do it, the more interested I become an emergence. And the less I believe in plans, that won't be a surprise to you, but I don't really believe that plans are real. They're just an aspiration. So emergence actually kind of makes sense to me. So over time, I started thinking about how do we live? And where do we live? And how can you change how we live and where we live, to create better outcomes. And, and I became interested in the concept of eudaimonia, which is a Greek word, which I find difficult to spell. And but it means a sort of state of human flourishing. And as soon as I kind of read about that concept, I just thought, yeah, that's what I'm interested in, is, how does all this stuff that we do together in the world? How does it create a state of flourishing? And the more I think about it, the more obvious it's aligned to, to to ecology as well. And because humans can't flourish, if they totally fuck up the place that they live in, so, so yeah, a state of human flourishing is actually a state of kind of planetary flourishing as well.

Will McInnes 8:37

That's a lovely, it's a lovely intro and a lovely set up. And so more recently, this concept of eudaimonia, is that how you say,

Jenni Lloyd 8:48

I don't know, I say it the way I read it,

Will McInnes 8:50

eudaimonia, it starts with the letters, E, you if you're if you're typing it in right now. So that really resonated for you. And that's about a kind of holistic sense of flourishing. And then I know that you have a particular interest in how this happens around place, or around cities. So to just just tell it, take that little thread and run with it go there.

Jenni Lloyd 9:17

So we all live in places, and I live in a place. And I'm really interested in this place in Brighton. And it's partly obviously because I live here, and so I know it well. And, and also I've interacted with lots of different parts of it. And like kind of physically, but also the people who live in it, the different communities that live in it, and I can't care about it, so and so if that makes it more interesting, but also it's the right size. So at one point when I when I decided to shift from working in kind of corporate land, I knew that I wanted to work on place, and that the best place I could work on was the place that I lived in that I knew the best and that I cared about the most So I started my own, kind of, I hesitate to call it consultancy, like formerly it was, you know, it was registered with companies house and I paid tax and things like that. But actually, it was an experiment. So I set it up as a kind of one year experiment, I knew it wasn't going to have longevity, I was never going to try and employ people and things like that. And it was a mechanism for me to shift fields. So to shift from kind of corporate consulting into social innovation, and play space, social innovation, so I did some work for clients to, you know, pay for the mortgage and things like that. And but mostly I ran and kind of community projects or personal projects that had some influence on Brighton and, and there was quite a lot of stuff that I learned from that. Partly that once you start saying that you're interested in something and working in that space, then more things happen. And so I had an opportunity to work with white Sussex on them a play space project in Bognor Regis. And that that kind of that was work that gave me money in in the space that I was still interested in. But it was kind of thinking more about. This isn't necessarily true of Bogner. But the kind of intense the kind of conceptual things that I'm interested in, it's a it's cities as a place where and where people meet. And it's not necessarily city cities or cattle, but like towns and interesting to particularly interested in faded seaside towns for some reason. But um, there's a phrase, which is that cities are a serendipity engine. And I was interested in serendipity engines, which is a way of kind of engineering serendipity, which makes it sound like you shouldn't really be able to engineer serendipity. But you can. And there's various people have kind of written about how some places at some points in time become these kind of amazing spaces when new ideas happen. And so there are certain conditions that make that happen. But some of it, most of it is about the confluence of certain people in certain places. And, and some of the conditions for that are the kind of extraordinary mix of people. So different people with different ideas from all over the place. And obviously, that's, you know, can be called collective intelligence, and all those sorts of things. But there are various communities that have popped up at various times and produced extraordinary advances in lots of different things. And I'm interested in that, I suppose. And I started off being interested in that. And in terms of a place where people come together, and so cities are serendipity engines is a kind of catch all for that. But then I also started thinking about what's the role of spaces, particular spaces within a place. So there are some buildings, for instance, where extraordinary things start to happen. And and so I started thinking about that as a sort of social supercollider. Actually, how do you bring people together, and through events or places that that make new ideas happen, and, and so that's all about kind of advancement, I suppose, but advancement for the benefit of all. And, and so in order to, I suppose, formalise or consolidate some of that learning and learn from other people who've been doing this stuff for a long time, I joined Nesta, and, and, and within Nestor, I've had the opportunity to work on particular programmes have helped me and maybe expand that thinking and, and also spend some time with people who are actually working in places and have not just the kind of aspirational, conceptual underpinning that I'm interested in and have built up myself, but also kind of the nitty gritty How does this work?

Will McInnes 13:48

Yeah, that's what I'm really curious about is it sounds really cool, like serendipity engines? Yes, please, I'd like one, what what are the manifestations or practical examples that we could kind of sink our teeth into.

Jenni Lloyd 14:03

So I don't know who has actually cracked this. But what I can see is kind of signals like little signs and things that you could amplify and and join together. So over the last year or so, I've been running a programme called the upstream collaborative and which is was a kind of active learning network for 20 local councils. And those councils are kind of pioneering different ways of working. And the ways that they're working are very much about playing a particular kind of role as as kind of leaders within an ecosystem of other organisations. So institutions, organisations, communities, and individuals. And so that idea of well it goes back to sort of network thinking I think is, is an organisation like a local authority having a role as a kind of major node in the network. What I've realised I'm interested in is how we organise ourselves. And so it started off, when we were thinking about democratic business, how how we organise to get the best ideas, and the most out of people is when people are network together, loosely as opposed to create it into hierarchies, which limit thinking. So there's another phrase which I like, which is that the hierarchies of yesterday are no match for the speed required today. And, and so hierarchies are slow. And unless they're completely autocratic, and if they're autocratic, there's a weakness in that you're relying on one person to know everything. And that, for me, feels foolish. Whereas if you operate as a network, and with kind of strong links between different things, and different people, then you can operate at speed, particularly if everyone has a sort of clear idea of the kind of shared purpose and what the kind of values and principles are that bound what you do. So that feels like an organising principle that can be true within business, but also within any human space. And so the upstream collaborative counsels, I think, starting to behave as a node in the network, as opposed to an organisation at the top of a tree. And it's, you know, it's, it's fairly nascent, I think, and maybe not as conceptually clear as that. But in order to behave like that, then they have to change their relationships, they have to change the way they operate, and they have to change the way they think about power. And so like, where power lies, I think is one of the things that shapes how we organise ourselves, and and who has power, who can give it away how we can share that power, in a network power is more distributed.

Will McInnes 16:53

So this upstream collaborative project that you've been running, what was it seeking to do? Or how has it taken shape? What's been interesting to you about how it's panned out? Yeah, we

Jenni Lloyd 17:05

set it up cases, we can see that there's a kind of shift happening in local government. And I suppose I want to say something about local government. And maybe people think councils are boring. I know, whenever we're having conversations, kind of, you know, not, not not, not in work or whatever. But in the majority, people just think about the council's as being people who are late with the bins, or too expensive in terms of the parking. But and local government is fundamentally important. And, and a key part of the kind of democratic system, which I think we've kind of lost sight of. And so they hold the closest relationship between systems state. So our interactions with the council happen every day for everyone. So that feels really, really important to me. And councils are really, really interesting. So obviously, there's a whole load of stuff about central government, which is really difficult to get your head around. And it's less difficult to get your head around and the relationship between city and state when you think about the local level. And that's I'm really, really interested in that. So there is a shift happening in the way local government is operating. And we've sort of identified that. But we wanted to know what the nature of that shift was in the scale of it. So was it just a few good stories that kept on being retold? Or was this something kind of more significant happening? And originally, we were thinking we would run a programme. And but I think in trying to design the programme, we realised we didn't know enough. And so the best way that we could find, to, to find out more was to work with counsellors themselves. And so we thought that if we put together a network and join together the the pioneers, that actually we could help them to support each other, because it's hard making change in an environment that's, you know, bureaucratic and has statutory obligations, and all those sorts of things. So the change makers working in local government are really, really strong, but they need support. And they need to know that they're not alone. And so joining them together kind of gives them more power,

Will McInnes 19:14

I think. So when you say there are a few good stories, can you help bring that to life for people who don't know this domain? Like what was what were these whiffs or signals that you were picking up on?

Jenni Lloyd 19:24

So probably the primary one was the story around Preston. And so Preston is a town in Lincolnshire that, you know, he's kind of has a post industrial history and and over the last eight to 10 years, they've significantly and change their sort of economic structure using a model called Community wealth building. And what that says is that, that the local authority is a key player within a set of other institutions. which they call anchor institutions. And so by combining their, their sort of spending power, and creating rules around procurement that favour people within organisations within the local environment, then actually they can reshape their local economy. And they can also make commitments like so adopting the living wage, for instance, if the local university, the council, and the hospitals, you know, if if all the major of the police force for instance, if they all adopt the same principles around the living wage, then actually locally, and the average income rent rises. And, and that creates benefit all around. So economic benefit, and kind of flows from community wealth building. But it's not just about how you spend the money, it's also about the kind of purpose and ethos behind the work. So what kind of role that Council is taking, in terms of its relationship with citizens, and the outcome is seeking for the town. So economic development within places for a long time has been, and let's get a major investor, to pay for the creation of a shopping mall, you know, that sort of thing. So some kind of big multinational contracts will then construct a huge shopping mall, and then kind of global retail partners will then populate that shopping mall. And people will go and spend money there. And that sort of, you know, has happened everywhere. So, you know, it's a really common pattern. But if you think about where the economic benefit for that lies, it doesn't necessarily lie in the place where that shopping mall is constructed. It's, you know, it lives with the investors who, you know, make money from the from the stock price. So it's kind of that doesn't necessarily benefit the town in the way that it was supposed to. So instead, they're kind of like rethinking about, well, what kind of place do we want to have? What kind of economic structure Do we need to benefit the people in that place? So anyway, the Preston model has become a kind of a good story, and, and is being adopted elsewhere. So other other towns are following the lead. And community wealth building is kind of growing. And but there's other towns, so Barnsley, for instance, and Oldham and have all started working in different ways. And, and they're kind of, you know, you notice that they're the northern towns, and the North has a particular history in terms of being post industrial, and having, you know, bad economic problems. So there's also a massive discrepancy in terms of wealth, and between the North and South. So, you know, I think we often say that the UK is the kind of fifth largest economy in the world, that's mostly London, if you stripped London out of it, we're way down the leaves. So actually, there's a kind of huge inequality in terms of economics. And we can see that that trickles down into all of the kind of social aspects of life. And I think that inequality is one of the biggest problems that that we suffer from, and contend to social problems. So anyway, there are other towns, like Barnes and Oldham, who are adopting different models, and Barnsley, for instance, have changed the way almost the role of the counsellor. So they've almost like the job description of the elected member is much more about being a kind of community activist. And, and

there is a kind of money given to at the ward level. And so the local community can decide how to spend that budget. So it's a kind of almost like a redistribution of the spending power, and the decision making power back into the community. And that, again, is something that speaks to not just economics, but about community connection, and, and democracy. So, which if we want to rebuild democracy, which I believe we need to, then those are the kinds of activities that are starting to do that on the ground. And, and so those are the kinds of stories that were coming up. We had some target councils that we wanted to attract into the collaborative. And so bonds in Oldham did join the collaborative, so depressed and and we wanted Wigan and but we didn't get and so the Wigan deal is also kind of a kind of well known story, which is about kind of creating a different social contract. So, it's kind of like there is a specific contract, which is that if citizens within Wigan perform these particular activities than the council will guarantee them a kind of very low council tax. So it's a quite transactional but really groundbreaking. When it came about, and one that lots of others other councils have tried to follow in terms of actually, what is the contract between this organisation, the state's run organisation, and the citizens who live in a place?

Will McInnes 25:13

This is great. So what's coming through for me is, like this sense of cities as a unit. Like, that's what you're getting me excited about is I'm starting to see cities as a play Park, or a sandbox or a, like some kind of unit of change. And then within that, you're talking about redistribution, you're talking about democracy activism, engagement, like whether it's transactional, or or, or different somehow. So too, so that's what you're excited about?

Jenni Lloyd 25:48

Yeah. And they go? No. Yes. So and there's lots of stuff that I've been learning. So I'm in running the collaborative. And we spent quite a lot of time on the sort of discovery phase. So we went around, and we visited lots of different places. And so I had a good few months, kind of going around to places that I'd never visited before, like, red car, I can never been to red car. There's lots of places like Barnsley, I've never been to Bozeman, and, and seeing what those places are, like, and hearing about the work of the council is doing there. And trying to understand what's driving that? What, what is driving this change, and, and not just that, but what's enabling it, what's getting in the way, but what is it and, and, and it was different, you know, in each place, there was sort of variations between the initiatives that they'd undertaken. And, but there seemed to be commonality in terms of the sense of purpose. And, and for a long time, I've been interested in purpose as a kind of driver, and lightweight back, sort of from next mechanist days. And, but having a really clear sense of purpose. So in, in public service, which, you know, is interesting favourite anyway, because it talks about being in service. And there is always, I think, a background ethos of wanting to do the right thing. But, um, and wanting to help people. But organizationally, I think we've managed to constrain that to the point of that a lot of people really, really frustrated. So public services being treated as a commercial entity, for instance, and hierarchies and bureaucracies that get in the way of people doing the job, and maybe a lack of trust in terms of the public servant. And so thinking that they need checklists, because otherwise they'll do the wrong thing. And, and actually, a lot of those constraints are being broken by the kind of counsellors we've been working with. So instead, they're thinking more about trust, and empowerment for staff. So recognising that actually, fundamentally, most people are trying to do the right thing. And if you enable them to do that, then they can actually make better decisions than if you just conform to a checklist. And, but there's a kind of probably something bigger in terms of the the background to all this, which is austerity. And, and so for 10 years, the amount of money going into local government has fallen by 35%, something like that. There's no other organisations, I don't think, no other system that could take that scale of reduction of revenue. And I don't think it's really recognised just what a good job most councils have been trying to do. So they have statutory and, and things that they have to do. They have to look after children who need care, for instance, they have to look after all people that you know, that there are statutory obligations. And we can see this, that social care is falling apart, it's falling apart because it's not got enough money. And it can't behave as a business. Because that's not a market anyone wants, in some richer places, actually, social care and is, is less of a problem because people can afford to pay for, you know, nicer, and care homes. But generally, these are not places where the market works. And and so the kind of ethos of kind of commercialization and market driven stuff, it just doesn't work. And and I think it's been proven not to work. So it needs something else. And I think

in my head, I've called a lot of these councils like fuck it councils, because it's like they've got twin drivers of austerity, ongoing, massive austerity and reductions in in revenue. Plus a completely changing world. So the complexity that we're all experiencing in business everywhere else, councils experience that you've got ageing populations, you've got changing needs of people, you've got a changing sort of levels of demand. So the demand is rising, particularly as the whole economy kind of falls away, then, then more people need help from public services. And so they've got all of these drivers. And over 10 years, they've tried prudently to make things more efficient to cut here to cut there, they call it salami slicing. And, and in the end, there's nothing left. Like you can't make any more efficient. And he kind of, he can't spend less. And so they're kind of gone. Fuck it, what else can we do? And a lot of them I've actually used that, I think is an opportunity to, to reconnect to the idea of what is it we're trying to do? And we want to make people's lives better? And then what is our role in this? And, and so a lot of them have decided that the right thing to do is to head upstream is to thank you. So if you think about, I don't like a hospital as being downstream as an institution, you end up there because something bad has happened. How do you stop that bad thing from happening? So for instance, loneliness, like, loneliness leads to mental health problems, which leads people to the GP, which leads to prescriptions. How do you create a community that provides people with the opportunity to connect, and therefore in conditions like bereavement or you know, like circumstances in their lives? How can the community play a part that prevents loneliness that prevents anxiety and depression that prevents the prescription? And so it's kind of how do you how do you create the conditions for people to flourish. And, and that's what these councils are trying to do. And that's why I find them like totally inspiring, because they're trying to do it within massive constraints. But they're trying to do it in the face of, you know, kind of personal difficulties as well, because to be the person trying to do something different in a system is hard. They're doing it, and they are having results. And there are stories in there that can be joined together, they can learn from each other, they can support each other, they can be amplified. And I think if you were to, to become if this way of operating was to become more mainstream, actually, you'd have a very, very different system, one where more people will be able to float. So that's what I find.

Will McInnes 32:35

That's incredibly exciting. I absolutely love it, it's really enjoyable. And I'm sure they'd love that badge, you've given them of being fucking count. We are proud members, founding members of the fuckit Brigade, I

Jenni Lloyd 32:48

have to say that hasn't come up in any of the reports we've just published. It's

Will McInnes 32:52

not official, that's, that's your own special code. So So, what if there is this emergence, early emergence of a new mode, a new way of being for these local governments? Or these institutions What? What characterises it, as you see, as you see this shift happening? What is there less of and what is there more of?

Jenni Lloyd 33:23

So I think it comes back to the kind of organisations they are. And and, and that's why the work ended up being about operating models. And for a long time, I couldn't get anyone excited, I couldn't really get excited about the time new operating models myself. And it took me a while to make the link. So I was more upstream. I was more excited about the upstream part of things. And you know, kind of actually how do you stop problems before they happen? And but a colleague was the one who was kind of she was banging on about your pricing models for ages. And she laid the foundations for the work. And, and it's because in order. So

the kind of work that these councils are doing are innovations. But they're the kind of innovations that there's a term which is architectural innovations. They're the kind of innovations that require a different kind of organisation in order to deliver them effectively. And there is other examples from the commercial world and once I realised that if I of course, right. So why why did Xerox give away the GUI to Apple, you know, so So, why were they unable to deliver on the promise of that? Why did Nakia not make a smartphone, you know, like, there are lots of technological innovations and which are created by existing organisations that can't, they can't change themselves enough to deliver on them. And but within the world of kind of public service, a council doesn't have a disrupter. They can't be an apple. I've heard someone saying, you know, to local authorities, you know that, yeah, you need to be more Netflix than blockbuster. And it's kinda like, it's a nice phrase. But how, how do you do that. And then in one of the first conversation, someone said, something like, you've got to change the wheel while you're driving the car. And it's true, like they can't stop doing what they're doing. Like they can't stop providing services for people who need them. And but at the same time, they also have to do new things. And they also don't have an r&d fund, or any kind of investment in innovation, there isn't anything. So how do you do new stuff. And so what I think the kind of councils within the upstream collaborative have been doing is they've been creating a new operating model for themselves. And, and that operating model is this kind of purpose on one side, and outcomes. On the other hand, the operating model provides a bridge between purpose and outcomes. And right in the middle of that is mindset. So the mindset that they've adopted, is very different. So it's collaborative. And it sees itself as, as part of a system as a, you know, a kind of leader within a system, but definitely not the sole player. And, and it kind of takes the kind of system view of a place. So and that kind of mindset in in infuses everything. And so there's a set of values in place, which there was a lot of commonality between the values that we could see. But there's also kind of principles, which are almost like design principles. So almost, I always think about principles as being like instructions for how you do what you do. And so this operating model, I think, the top half of it, because we obviously have made a pretty diagram of it. The top half of it is about being so like, the kind of like the more sort of fundamental fundamentals or worldviews or belief driven stuff. And then the bottom half of it is infrastructure and capabilities. And I think very often, like people looking at organisations only really see infrastructure and capabilities. But how those infrastructure and capabilities are put into place, and put into use is massively influenced by and the kind of values principles and the kind of underpinning mindset. And so the way that people, for instance, are put into place, and how you believe those people should behave, like what kind of tools they use, all that sort of thing. It's all influenced by the mindsets underneath it. So so that's the kind of the work that's come out of it, which is to be able to almost like codify, what is the difference? And in in, in being able to codify it? How do you create a narrative around it, that means other people can adopt it? And that's kind of what we've been publishing over the last couple of weeks, is a kind of new operating models handbook. So like setting out the, the, like what we've seen, and case studies from different councils, but then also like, how do you take it from the margins to the mainstream? How do you overcome some of the barriers, and some of the biggest barriers are things like, attributes was risk, huge, and ways of measuring, so measuring targets, KPIs, all that sort of stuff, fundamentally influence how people deliver the job. So all of those things have kind of come up. And we've kind of written about them, and tried to, in a way, sort of disseminate them. But I think that it comes back to, again, the way that we organise. And I think one of the most

kind of exciting moments for me was when I understood why, and so many councils were so interested in something called an asset based community development, which is a terrible name. If, if I had my way, it would be renamed but it it already had its thing, so it can't be renamed. But ABCD kind of is a way of operating within communities. And very often it can be just communities within themselves. But local authorities can play a part and the part that they play can be as an enabler of the capacity of the community. And there was something really, really important in terms of mindset in that which is instead of seeing communities as being pockets of demand, so places that have needs that public service. system service. And instead to see them as places that are full of different assets. And those assets might be might be things might be places might be green spaces might be village halls, you know, all those other places that could provide opportunities for people to gather, also people themselves and the skills they have the passions, they have the appetites they have, you know, there is something fundamental about, I think we all know, people within a community who kind of go like, No, we need this. And, and very often they, they have the energy to gather people around them, and they make things happen, local authorities can find those people, they can find those places. And by doing that they can almost create an abundance, where austerity is dictated that there is scarcity, but actually, there's almost infinite capacity within communities, and the local authorities that have realised that have taken a very different approach. And for me, that's the kind of key thing alongside and heading upstream, and understanding themselves as being players within the wider system. And also seeing the capacity and their ability to unlock that capacity in communities. Those feel like the fundamentals of changing

Will McInnes 41:19

that is awesome. I love it. And does that take us then to, to eudaimonia? Like, are we full circle yet? Or are we not quite ready for utopia?

Jenni Lloyd 41:30

So are we Yeah, so, um, in terms of outcomes and purpose, and the way that we hesitate to say eudaemonia in public service land, in fact, I don't think I've ever said that to the council's. But we've entered instead, sort of recognise that the purpose that the councils are playing, or kind of have taken on board is their role in creating the conditions for people in place to flourish. And that the outcomes, therefore, should be flourishing people and flourishing places. And if you think about that, you can break that down into a set of goals, you know, like indicators, rather about, like, how would you know that someone was flourishing? Like, the sort of, economically you can look at Preston, for instance, and look at the increase in average income, that would dictate, you know, like, that would be a good indicator, but you can also think about non financial returns. And, and so I've spent some time thinking about that. And in fact, last year, we created a board game, and it's to try and work through or, or, by playing to help people understand the different aspects of, of what a flourishing community might look like. But, um, there's a, there's a psychologist I was working with, and she introduced me to some work, and that they created a group called psychologists against austerity. And, and they'd, they'd started looking at, well, what are they? And what aspects of psychological health exist within people and communities, and they broken it down into kind of five indicators. And, you know, lots of people are talking about well, GDP is the wrong indicator of of health of a nation, for instance. And let's so there's a movement towards looking at well being indicators. But these five aspects of psychological health felt to me they just feel really right. And so, like a core one is agency. So to what degree do people feel that they have some choice in the decisions that they make in the way that they lead their lives, and security, so how security you feel in your neighbourhood? And I'm going to find it difficult to remember five, but connection. So to what degree do you feel connected to where you live, and the people around you? And I can't remember the other two, and in the councils that we've been sort of working with, so for instance, Leeds, Leeds, and we were working with the kind of adult social health department. And they've gone heavy on asset based community development, and particularly around isolation and loneliness, because connection is the antidote to loneliness, collection, connection and belonging, which is one of the other five and so that comes from communities. So I don't think most people want a befriending service. You know, do you want someone who is your friend because it's their job? And or do you instead you you want to feel like you walk down the street and you recognise people, people recognise you, you know, those sorts of things. And so, leads have put in place, kind of one of their KPIs is that everyone in Leeds should have three good friends

and you know, like How many? How many times have you thought that that's the job of the council, but it's not, you know, they're not making people have friends through pretending services, they're creating the conditions through which people can make connections with people who will become their friends. And so that creates a network of support that goes way beyond what public services can deliver. So it's kind of public services should be the kind of net, but the actual kind of flourishing place would provide those things anyway. And it's almost like self sustaining. Because the more connected a community is, the more connected it becomes. And so for me, that feels like again, the that we look at resources in terms of money. And I think that there's a mistake or a misunderstanding of the resources that are available to us. And so austerity dictates that there's not enough money and and that we can't pay for this. And so therefore, it kind of breeds a desperate scrabbling and a competition for resources. Where if we see money as just being one of the resources that's available to us, but actually, we have all these other resources that are available within communities, then actually, that shifts us into a kind of abundance mindset. Because you can't, you know, you can't have too much connection, you can't have too much belonging. So it's kind of, I think that that's what we're starting to see. And I do believe there's a kind of there is starting to be a kind of almost international movement around looking at what are what what is a good place, what is a good life, and recognising that actually, money isn't much to do with it. I do want to say, obviously, that I don't believe that we should be defunding public services. And that's the kind of key criticism that can be levelled at any work that looks at driving the capacity of the community. Because there's a horrible kind of legacy of David Cameron's kind of big society, which is basically that we have volunteers can deliver public services. And that's, you know, monstrously untrue. And, and so there is always the need for a fully funded state, and fully funded public services. But there's different ways of creating the conditions that in which people's needs can be met. And they don't necessarily lie within public services.

Will McInnes 47:26

Amazing, really, really interesting. And I can see and feel a sense of coming full circle, when he talks about how more connections compound and create more connections, I could see a trace back to the, to your opening, excitement and love of cities, I've always thought of cities as Super connected networks. And back to your serendipity engines. So the report that you released, I'll include it in the show notes, but if you just give us a quick shout out of what it's called, or where people can find it,

Jenni Lloyd 48:00

yeah, it's, um, it's a set of six reports, and which are kind of collected together under the name and new operating models handbook. And the handbook is really aimed at being a kind of practitioners guide to new ways of working in local government. So there's kind of six parts, there's the introduction to new operating models, which talks about the drivers, and it talks about what the model that we've seen emerging, and it gives examples of how that's being put into place by different councils. And so it kind of gives a shout out to the, to the different councils have been involved in the upstream collaborative. And then we've got kind of different more sort of tool based papers. So actually, how do you move this from the margins, the mainstream, what are the enablers? And that would enable this kind of shift to grow within an individual organisation? And how do you think about risk? So reframing risk is one of our papers. And, and also, we did some kind of rapid research over the COVID period, to see how local authorities were responding to COVID. And what's and what benefits the new operating model they've already adopted and would have in that instance, and so there's a paper specifically dedicated to that. And so yeah, six papers, new operating models handbook. Everyone should read it.

Unknown Speaker 49:23

I'm sure they will.

Will McInnes 49:26

And as we as we bring this brilliant conversation to a close, I suppose. Just briefly, your appetite for what snacks like Well, what I love about you, Jenni is you're you're just relentless curiosity and restless inquiry into the world. So what's what's next for your interest? What are you interested to follow up on?

Jenni Lloyd 49:53

Want to keep going on this frame and I'm not done with local government and I'm not done with places, I think I've just scratched the surface to be honest. And so there is a movement called, so difficult to say, I don't know why the things I'm interested in always have bad names, but this is a new municipalism which is something that I want to get more involved in to explore further, and new economic models. So new economic models being about ownership, and, and kind of more distributed forms of ownership within kind of businesses, social enterprises, things like that. I'm really interested in community owned assets, for instance, very interested in community land trusts, and that fundamentally, everything comes down to who owns what, and the inequality of who owns what, and how a lot of that is based in, you know, William the Conqueror, giving loads of lands to people who helped him, you know, kind of win. And, and that's still being the basis, and for a lot of our ownership structures, and and that's still having an impact, really interested in actually how do you create more distributed forms of ownership and in terms of kind of places, and but also how you encourage communities to take ownership of things themselves, how you kind of almost liberate communities, and what impact that has in, in the kind of sense of connection that they have. So that feels like something I want to explore. And I'm still really interested in local government. So anything that could join together, new operating models, new economic models, and new municipal ism, all the news. And, and ideally, obviously, in Brighton, but not sure about that. And I suppose the other sort of really big thing that's on the horizon. And that I haven't connected with fully but I want to is, and the work of the donut economics lab, which is Kaypro worth and exploration of how donut economics can be and cited in a place. So she's been doing some really great work in Amsterdam, and has created a platform to see how it could be proliferating to other places. And I want to get involved in some of that. But I think the thing that I'm always interested in is how they connect. And so I think that's probably what I'm most interested in is connecting things. And so all of those things that I just said that had new in front of them, and plus donut economics. And yeah, I want to find an opportunity for that somewhere somehow.

Will McInnes 52:33

I absolutely love that journey. And I challenge myself and anyone listening to this, to come up with as immediate and interesting sounding list of things that one is currently pursuing. That is what life is about is about. What's next. What am I interested in? What am I learning about? I absolutely love it. So thank you so much, Jenni. And where can people follow your pursuits and interests online? Is there a sort of place we can point people to

Jenni Lloyd 53:01

probably still Twitter. And so at Jenni Lloyd genuine I know he and but also, I mean, the stuff we've published is all on the Nesta website and hopefully will be for some time to come. Very cool. Jenni Lloyd, je

Will McInnes 53:16

Je n n. I LLOYD. Good stuff. Thank you so much for joining me on the conversation today. Jenni.

Jenni Lloyd 53:25

Thank you very much Will.

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