Please, anything but innovation

Please, anything but innovation
Is it now the right time to innovate?
Robert Jamieson

A new report from Community Southwark – Please, anything but innovation: What are the barriers to genuine cross-sector collaboration? - aims to uncover whether the climate is now right for a significant shift in the way that services are commissioned and delivered, and whether VCS organisations should be supported to foster innovation.

The changing economic, social and political climate of recent years has seen waves of reports published, seminars and breakfast briefings attended, case studies written and conferences held. All with one thing in mind: innovation.

It has become a phrase that has permeated the private, public and voluntary and community sectors. But what is innovation? How do we identify and replicate innovative practice? And how can the voluntary and community sector (VCS) be supported to adopt innovation?

Many voluntary and community sector organisations (VCOs) consider themselves to be naturally innovative. This is something that needs to be harnessed and supported. However, in an atmosphere of dwindling resources, it is can be difficult for some VCOs to innovate. They are often concentrating on services that have been proven to deliver improved outcomes. These organisations often don’t have the resources or time to commit to research and development, let alone adopting innovative practice – especially charities and community organisations that are on the smaller side.

On the other hand, commissioners are struggling to design and deliver services that meet the needs of a changing population at a time of constrained resources. Using innovative methods to do this might be a way of delivering improved outcomes; but it can seem difficult, time-consuming, and can be perceived as ‘trendy’ or as a ‘fad’.

In order for innovation to happen and to be successful, we need to create the right environment, bring together the right people, and focus on the right kind of problems. To enable this we have carried out this piece of research, which aims to uncover how we can best foster innovation and use it to unpick some of the challenges facing service commissioners, providers and residents in the borough.

This report provides an in-depth analysis of the national and local context, a comprehensive initiative review and the results of our own targeted research in order to make recommendations for how to move towards truly innovative policy-making in Southwark.

You can read the full report by clicking here.

If you have any questions please contact Robert Jamieson, Policy Officer, at