Time to Hibernate

Dublin City Council beta is being put into ‘hibernation’. I’d like to explain why, and what this means.

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Why?

As described on the home page of this website,

This is a Dublin City Council project which was initiated as an ‘innovation time project’, is now being carried out part-time, and is being developed ‘bottom-up’ by Dublin City Council staff. It’s also a trial – itself “in beta”.

Dublin City Council beta is the backend ecosystem (funding, staff time, red-tape workarounds, transferable processes, etc) which enables the various individual Beta Projects to occur. It’s often invisible, certainly less tangible and easy to describe, and currently takes up much of the time which I spend on Beta. Think of the iceberg analogy.

With Dublin City Council beta, I’ve been trying to develop a different approach to the more usual centralised, fully-staffed, section – instead trying to develop a ‘platform’, staffed part-time by staff (and citizens) which  dip in and out as required, depending on what Beta Projects are moving through the pipeline at the time.

The time has come for the trial to pause for assessment, and a decision made as to whether to fully resource it and take it to the next level – much the same treatment as any of the Beta Projects themselves. It won’t be simple given the current public sector challenges and levels of resourcing, however we are also mindful of the risk of viewing time spent on better problem solving as “fringe”…

Too Busy To Improve

Why put it into hibernation now?

  1. In a previous life as an entrepreneur co-founding GoCar, I found that there was never enough time and always too much to have to do and learn…which is also often the fun of it all, the diversity of the role and the speed at which you’re learning new things. I can now tell you that it’s no different as an intrapreneur! Always a lot to manage, running Beta has become more unsustainable as the concept has grown over the last 3.5 years, alongside the core workload for the staff involved.
  2. Rather than growing towards the vision that we have in mind, there is a risk of a limping Beta damaging the concept. I’ve decided that it will be better to put it into hibernation whilst we review the concept. Think of this in much the same way as the way Beta Projects policy trials are removed in order to maintain trust, avoid blurring the concept, and to also remove pressure from the trial in order to encourage internal discussions to take place.
  3. It’s also timely in terms of trials with the first Beta Project now being expanded across the city, and the most recent trial having recently finished.

    (There are some Report Cards outstanding from some recent trials – the bike hangar, the rain boxes, and the parklet (iteration 2). Those will be issued in the coming weeks.)

What will ‘Hibernation’ mean?

For the remainder of 2015, we won’t be working on developing any more Beta Projects, and the various Beta communication channels (email, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, website comments, etc) won’t be responded to during this period.

This website will continue to be available as an information resource.

Please send on your Feedback!

Just as individual Beta Projects are assessed with their results publicly reported, I’m committing to issuing a Report Card on the Dublin City Council beta concept itself in the next month or two.

All feedback regarding Beta would be very useful with regard to preparing that ‘DCCbeta Report Card’, which in turn will also be useful to help us with our internal determinations regarding the future of the Beta concept!

Have you found the format of Beta Projects useful? Would you like to see more of the approach? Why, or why not?

You can comment below, email it to betaprojects@dublincity.ie, or get in touch on Facebook or Twitter. (You may like to add #DCCbetaReportCard on Twitter).

Thanks!

On behalf of myself and the various Dublin City Council staff who have been involved, I’d like to thank each and every one of you who contributed in some way – whether strategy advice, suggestions, constructive criticism, proposing or participation in a Beta Project, or simply giving us a thumbs up here and there! It has been greatly appreciated. 🙂

All the best,

Shane Waring
21st September 2015

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About Dublin City Council beta

Dublin City Council are trying a new method called DCC Beta Projects...your input, then quick trials 'on the street', then your feedback! We'd LOVE your help!
This entry was posted in General Thoughts & Future Betas, Shane, Strategy. Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Time to Hibernate

  1. Willie C says:

    Hi Shane, Ive been keeping an eye on Beta Dublin from afar the last few years. It is really phenomenal what you have achieved. Initiating “beta trials” of traffic box art, mural walls, parklets, litter improvement pilots and bike hangars, to name a just a few projects. Everything you have done has been meticulously documented, communicated and comprehensively evaluated – everything is put on the web for transparency. This doesn’t take five minutes.

    This is no mean feat. As a local government professional, I completely understand how much hard work this would take to “break the mould” on existing process, practice and work culture. I have absolutely no idea how you and the team did this within your “10% innovation” time allocation!!

    I hope senior management see the value in what is happening here, and try to roll this approach out on a wider scale. If there is anything that I can do to help – letters of support to Councillors, management or the like… drop me a line.

  2. kurleymcd says:

    I have greatly enjoyed seeing the projects ‘pop-up’ all over the city. I do hope that this initiative does return, it has added a great layer of colour to areas which are at times a bit drab. The short term aspect to the projects have been great, giving a fantastic sense of surprise when they do appear. Do bring this initiative back.

  3. damcw says:

    Well done Shane and to the rest of the team. I hope that come the end of 2015, you’ll have the support required to take the beta to the next level. I’ve been following the blog for roughly 3 years and have been hugely impressed by the work undertaken and open dialogue. I very much hope this is the beginning of something bigger and more exciting.

  4. Linda O'Nolan says:

    Yes, do bring this initiative back. Here’s a beta project I’d love to see on streets. A photo poster campaign at points of the city which are turbulent black spots for violence; with measurements a year before and and after to see if giant pictures of cute kittens (or other heart stoppers) have an impact on street life.

  5. Peter says:

    BetaProjects has been great. A city needs ‘incident’ – things, events – that break up the pattern; it makes the city more human, more liveable and more fun. I can understand the need for a pause – if you’re working with very limited resources, there’s the inevitability of chasing your tail the whole time, whereas gaining an overview should make the undertaking more effective and sustainable. That’s certainly what I am hoping for BetaProjects.

  6. From an outsider looking in, it’s been fascinating seeing teh work that you’re doing. There is so much discussion about resourcing public services, but equally public services where we are can’t continue to function in teh same way. It’s been great loooking at your approach and thinking how public services could adapt them in Wales. Good luck with the review, and hope to see the the Beta Projects back post-pause!

    Dyfrig

  7. Justin Mason says:

    I think it’s been a great success, and I hope it returns. Thanks for all the hard work!

  8. Kenneth McKenzie says:

    I’d love to chip in on how we think about evaluating projects like this: hard metrics are not ideally suited, while soft metrics don’t convince funders. But the idea of microchanges to daily quality of life is well worth serious evaluation.

    • Hi Kenneth, we’ve found that we tend to require a mixture of both in combination (but not sure we’re quite there yet) – the different metrics also tend to convince different types of citizens and also different sections of the City Council. Much harder to argue when both a qualitative and quantitative are saying a similar thing….and of course the soft often tell you ‘the why’, which allows you to take further decisions.

  9. Pingback: That’s All Folks! | Dublin City Council Beta Projects

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