It’s not just the Council who can spin…


Recently I was asked to deliver a project to talk with the public about some local parks and open spaces in the borough.  I developed a pretty good project plan which the parks team agreed, then brought in a team of facilitators to deliver it and reported back the findings.  We did events, surveys, meetings and more, and had about 4000 people talk to us about their local parks and how they wanted to see them develop.

Once this was all over, I was contacted by an IT company who were touting a nice piece of software.  They knew nothing at all about the parks project, but wanted to show off how their software could take the public’s comments and make them easier to understand, so as a test I sent over the comments we had received to see if their claims could be proved.  Whilst interesting, they didn’t actually tell us anything we couldn’t find out by reading the comments ourselves (old school, I know…) so I’ve not used them since.

Imagine my surprise therefore when a Google alert brought this to my attention:

The xxxxxx Solution

The Borough of yyyyyyyyyyy wanted to enable the constituent population to be able to engage on what mattered to them in respect of the parks and open spaces. They also needed to be able to separate out the responses and understand what was important to different parts of the population. xxxxxxx deployed a Community Consultation Dashboard for yyyyyyyyyyyy. This was designed around the specific locations in question and gave them the power to analyse, understand and interpret meaning from the various engagement activities.

xxxxxxxxx worked with yyyyyyyyyyyy on creating effective ways to elicit information from the population. During face to face meetings in the actual parks, respondents were invited to use narrative style in order to describe issues of importance in their own language. This approach encouraged a much richer source of information and a more considered set of perspectives. The Community Consultation Dashboard meant that yyyyyyyyyyy were able to ask “what are your priorities for the parks and open spaces” and then create a fully interactive map of the key themes that emerged.

Now, these are just excerpts from the case study they put out which pretty much implies that they planned, delivered and evaluated the entire programme themselves – which they didn’t.  I’ve got no problem at all with sharing good or bad practice, but these people are trying to sell their product on the back of my hard work!  It’s the equivalent of me forwarding an e-mail from e-bay and then trying to get money from every sale they then make – I had nothing to do with the work they are doing but as they are doing alright I want to get on that bandwagon!

Why can’t people just be honest about what they are doing?!

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One Comment on “It’s not just the Council who can spin…”

  1. contractingatthetownhall Says:

    It’s a common problem. Consultants needing to demonstrate work that they’ve done in order to get more contracts.

    I’ve previously been on working groups who were commissioning work from consultants to write “independent” reports that would have no chance of attaining the level of nuance or detail that we could within the government, but our work would not be accepted as legitimate as it wasn’t independent. This is despite the fact that every organisation has it’s own agenda to push, especially consultants, as their interest is in tying up a specialty area so they continue to receive commissions from government (for instance).

    Frequently I’d take out a purple pen and write large increduluous comments all over the report, as they’d make spruious unsupported claims. We’d then either feed them the data they needed, OR their report would be accepted by a committee that hadn’t read it in detail. Really frustrating.

    But, they could consistently claim that they deliver quality reports for us, and no-one else could then get into the market as they didn’t have the experience.

    Sounds like this is what these guys are trying to do.


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