Moving beyond Consultation- Co-Producing with communities

A national Community Planning Partnership Conference ‘Changing Lives, Delivering Success: Turnicpopo.pngng Ambition into Action’ held in Glasgow on 26 June 2015 featured a Co-production workshop. This was delivered in partnership by Mark McGeachie, Joint Improvement Team, Lisa Pattoni, the Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services and David Reilly, Scottish Community Development Centre/Scottish Co-production Network.

This was a discussion based workshop, based on the premise that working with people and communities in a way which truly is co-produced requires a different approach and mindset.  We asked, how do we move beyond consultation?

Discussions were around the questions; where does our practice whatiscopro.jpgand approach sit on a ladder from ‘doing to’ to ‘doing with’? And, what barriers must we overcome to move up that ladder?

The purpose of the workshop was for people to share and learn from each other’s experiences of co-production.  We created an atmosphere where people we enabled to talk about their experiences and discuss concerns and opportunities to co-produce.  It’s a mark of the interest in co-production that we had to forage for more chairs for everyone who wanted to join us.

Whilst acknowledging that various understandings abound, co-production was defined as being “about combining our mutual strengths and capacities on an equal basis to achieve positive change”.

Everyone involved was given copies of co-production case studies, available from Co-production – how we make a difference together. You can also read the presentation from the event here.


People told us that Co-production was the filling in a sandwich between top down and bottom up approaches

  • That to co-produce, we need enough time and money

    • We should consider the costs of not co-producing - badly designed services costs more.

    • Why not have one budget? Savings from one co-produced project could be used to deliver more co-production

  • That we need to go beyond the vocal minority to reach the silent majority.

  • We need to trust the community enough to give away power.

  • Who participates depends on how co-production is managed and supported:

    • We need to try different methods to include the most vulnerable and hardest to reach groups,

    • We need to be willing to help build resources of those less empowered,

    • This needs the right commitment and skills.

  • We must address the why bother question.  Everyone must see the value and evidence that this is mutually beneficial.

  • We have to be careful that co-production doesn’t result in communities now being expected to do everything themselves.

  • The elephant in the room; are we being honest with people?

  • There are some areas where we can’t see how co-production can work – due to legal or regulatory constraints.


 Participant feedback

There was a good buzz in the workshop, people appreciated not being talked at and left on a positive and upbeat note.  Our immediate feedback included:workshop.jpg

“Thanks for putting the process into action – well-handled workshop”

“Enjoyed the participatory approach and enthusiasm in the room”.


“Good discussions and a chance to network”.

“Enjoyed the discussion but would have liked to have seen the presentation”.

“Thanks, was great”