WOW Community: using the Power of Connections to turn Ideas into Action
We all know the feeling. The one where you’ve got a great idea but you just don’t quite seem to be able to make happen. It could be that you’re not sure where to start, you don’t know who can help you, or that you’re struggling to persuade others that it’s worth giving it a go.
Scott Belsky interviewed hundreds of the most productive creative people and teams in the world for his bestselling book Making Ideas Happen. He wanted to find out what makes the difference between a great idea which remains just that, and an idea which is executed and becomes something great.
Belsky suggests that there are three major obstacles to making ideas happen: lack of organisation, lack of accountability and a lack of community support.
Now, community support is something we’re familiar with in so many guises. From Run Dem Crew (a 500 strong running ‘family’ who offer mentoring and advice to young people) to Casserole Club (which brings people who like cooking together with neighbours who may not be able to cook for themselves), we see community support as a crucial factor in turning creative ideas into tangible benefits – such as supporting people to keep fit or enjoy home-cooked dinners – as well as helping those involved to feel connected.
Leandro Herrero is a well-known speaker and author around organisational change. Herrero’s research has shown that people who are highly connected are often more influential within organisations than those with traditional hierarchical power.
Initiatives such as the School for Health and Care Radicals and the Time to Talk campaign are using these ideas and offering us a different way to connect. What they have in common is an innovative use of digital communication, and a belief that so-called ‘weak ties’ - the type of connections between acquaintances which can link diverse social groups – can actually be very powerful in spreading ideas or information. These are the kind of community ties which can underpin campaigns, and even become social movements.
These are the kind of ties the WOW Community wants to help people who are interested in developing community wellbeing approaches to develop. The WOW Community has been developed as part of Wellbeing Our Way, a programme supported by The Health Foundation, that brings people together to develop the kinds of ‘more than medicine’ approaches we know can help people live well, in the ways that matter to them; approaches like peer support, supported self-management and care and support planning, for instance.
The WOW Community is a space to share examples of promising practice around engaging people in their health and care. There are already more than 50 examples within the community, covering peer support, social return on investment, Synergy cafés for people living with dementia, online supported self-management programmes, and so much more.
The community is searchable by theme or by population group, so you can easily find the examples which are most directly relevant to your work. We also encourage as many people as possible to share their own examples, to bring together a wealth of ideas and experience.
By sharing ideas which have made it into action, we hope that the WOW Community will connect people who are at different stages in the development of ‘more than medicine’ approaches. Most of the examples have contact details so that those just starting out with an idea can get in touch with other people who have developed a similar approach. If your idea is already fully formed, but you’re struggling to get buy in from others, we hope that gathering examples of how these approaches work will help persuade others to try your idea. Ultimately, we aim to offer a new online community which offers the kind of support for change that Belsky and Herrero know are so significant.