Getting Started: What to do First in a Complex World

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The Approach

At the start, the group knew that it needed to know a lot more about a lot of things, but couldn’t easily prioritise this. The analyst began by taking an incremental approach using presentations and initial papers to board meetings aimed at helping the group to identify and clarify what it already knew and what it needed to know. This developed into a gradually evolving set of papers and reports which could form the group’s evidence base. By providing hands-on support, after the initial work, to the lead trustee in developing a financial plan and business case, and in approaches to possible funders and the local council, the group was helped to develop its capacity at making use of the research material in practice, and to identify its further information needs.

“We now have a stock of valuable research material which we can put to a variety of uses”

The Client

A small new community-based charity aspiring to develop supported housing.

The Client's Problem

The group, mostly of carers, wanted to act to address the local shortage of housing options for adults with learning disabilities, and needed some research to help decide how to proceed.

The Solution

  • Enable group to understand the challenges it faces, and their scale
  • Provide a stock of research material that it can use in a variety of contexts
  • Support lead trustee to build her experience of discussions with council and grant or loan providers, and facilitate group in taking decision on timing of further work

The Benefits

  • The group has a better chance of longer term effectiveness, because it is better able to formulate strategy with confidence, and to plan how to deal with the current uncertain environment
  • The group is armed with information to support fundraising, awareness-raising and future service delivery, giving it capacity to be more influential, as well as more effective
  • The group is better able to negotiate effectively with important partners
  • All of these factors mean that the group is more attractive to funders and commissioners and more likely to be able to achieve its goals