Collaborate and The Social Innovation Partnership are today launching a new paper, Collaboration: from emerging science to evidence base, that calls for the creation of a Collaboration Evidence Hub (CEH) – a new resource for practitioners, professionals, policy-makers, and the public that offers a systematic way of building and understanding evidence. This Hub hopes to evaluate, code and accredit different cross-sector collaborations, evaluating their key characteristics and case study data using a common set of Standards of Evidence.
The benefits of collaboration are well researched. Done well, it can drive systemic change where it is needed and maximise collective impact – an imperative as spending continues to tighten and demand for services grows. The partnership between Cabinet Office and Nesta to establish The Behavioural Insights Team is a case in point. A unit originally set up to deliver discrete pockets of work within government, it now influences almost every area of domestic policy and has delivered £300m in savings over a five-year period.
Collaboration: from emerging science to evidence base? finds that the wish for collaboration translates unevenly into practice. Many attempts to embed collaborative working end in failure. Even when structures and governance are aligned, cultural and emotional barriers remain. One of the key challenges identified in the report is that our understanding of “what works” remains a work in progress.
Drawing together TSIP’s experience designing and successfully growing the path-breaking Project Oracle – London’s Evidence Hub for children and young people – and Collaborate’s global public service delivery framework developed in partnership with the UNDP, Collaborate and TSIP propose the creation of a Collaboration Evidence Hub (CEH). The CEH would be a virtual platform that offers a systematic way of building and understanding the evidence base. It would evaluate, code and accredit different cross-sector collaborations, evaluating their key characteristics and case study data using a common set of Standards of Evidence. Importantly, as a resource for the public, for professionals, practitioners and policymakers, it will also help organisations to find other collaborators inside and outside their sector.
Henry Kippin, Director of Collaborate, said: ‘None of the major policy agendas within public services can be sustainable without better cross-sector collaboration. From the Northern Powerhouse to the Five Year Forward View, serious reform to the system is predicated on better collaboration across sectors and smarter engagement with citizens. Despite this, we still seriously underplay the capability building that is needed to collaborate well. Understanding what works is crucial, and the Collaboration Evidence Hub will look to fill this gap to support policymakers, practitioners and citizens who are pushing for a different model.’
Stephen Bediako, CEO of The Social Innovation Partnership, said: ‘Collaboration is a means to achieving better outcomes in the real world. And yet great collaboration feels like the exception. Our ambition with the Collaboration Evidence Hub is to help take outcomes-focused collaboration in public services from ambition to delivery.’