In my last blog post, I spoke about the delivery issues one can experience with solutions devised to skip across sectoral boundaries. It can be difficult to find an appropriately placed champion, in a private or public sector organisation, for a solution which doesn’t fit neatly in a specific silo.

So how DO we really work in an integrated way?  If I knew the full answer to that, I might re-consider my “open-source” principles, and not give it away in this blogpost, but since I don’t, I can only do as well as asserting what I personally think are a number of characteristics of “joined-up”, or “integrated” working.

This list is not a manifesto, or a definition, but rather a collection of principles or actions that I have seen result in positive, sometimes transformational change, in projects across a number of sectors in my career.  This week I am going to focus on things we must understand or conceptualise, and next week’s post will be about things we must do.

1)      We must understand value across a “triple bottom line”, and in the long term.  The more we can feed ideas of societal, economic and environmental outcomes into our predictions and modelling of “value”, the more we will be able to reach the additional investment we will require to provide better public services in times of cuts, coupled with demographic shifts.

2)      We must try to understand, and embrace, complexity.  People confuse complexity with “complicated”, yet they are very different.  If our world is complex and non-linear, then our solutioneering ought to be so too.  But it doesn’t have to be complicated. This is to say we must push for revolutionary design ideas – not evolution of the previous recipe with a bit of 21st century sprinkle on top. “Design thinking”, which incorporates logic, intuition, emotion, as well as analytics, is required to do this.  A pinch of bravery as well, and a framework in which to get things wrong safely (say, a digital simulation environment, or a war-game exercise).

3)      We must understand that stakeholders can simultaneously have different purposes or identities. Civic organisations can, and should be a bit more like businesses, and be enterprising.  Businesses can, and should be a bit more civic, and socially-minded.  Citizens can, and must lead a bit more and drive business and the public sector. I recently heard Tom Knowland, from Leeds City Council, call this “Civic Enterprise” at the RICS European Smart Cities conference earlier this month, and relate the success this kind of flexible organisational thinking has brought to Leeds in their Smart City ambitions.

4)      We must understand, and commit to act upon, the idea that delivering major projects for society, will more often than not require transformational change in the delivery organisation as well the solution.  “Let those who live in glass houses not throw stones” – this is an acknowledgement from stakeholder organisations in big projects that successful change comes from changed organisations (or at least ones willing to change).

I am always interested in talking about Design Thinking, Urban Projects, Smart Cities, and working across any and all boundaries.  I would love to hear what you people out in the blogosphere think of, when you picture truly productive “integrated thinking”.