Time limited activity in the ‘Grit Society’

Today’s weather made me look back at a blog posting I wrote just over two years ago about the community and institutional response to a heavy snowfall. That work seems to have developed further with Sutton’s  Twitter Grit feeds and Lambeth’s Snow Wardens being examples of the current initiatives.

When I wrote about the ‘Grit Society‘ then, the Big Society was all the rage. That seems to have become a much more long-termist approach built around some ongoing programmes of Citizen ServiceCommunity Organisers, social investment and encouraging more giving.

However the weather challenge is the opposite of this. It is short-term and perhaps it is that time limited commitment that makes people more willing to take part as they are not ending up in an open-ended arrangement, just as we saw so much volunteering during the short period of the Olympics by Games Makers.

Whilst some people are motivated to commit to an activity for a long-period, many others are not and an unsegmented approach to this challenge does not work. That is why I think the point I make in my ‘Grit Society blog posting is still relevant:

The issue, then, for Council’s during the cold months is to communicate a range of messages that motivates those who want to help, encourages more people to take part, but reassures those who do not see volunteering as fair compared to what they already feel they contribute. That opportunity for mindful values based communication is the way to turn the current co-operation of this week’s “Grit Society” perhaps into a wider civic participation.

I think this further illustrates the point made by David Halpern, Director of the Behavioural Insight Team at the Cabinet Office, who wrote yesterday that ‘Successful public service design must focus on human behaviour‘. Insight and segmentation is crucial to gaining an understanding of human behaviour in order to make those service design changes work effectively.

Charlie Mansell is Research and Development Officer for The Campaign Company. If you want to see what your own primary values set is, why not take the simple Values Questionnaire here.

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