A question mark

Weeknotes: Are we part of the problem?

By Kathryn Dingle 28 January 2022

Hi all, I’m NPC’s Digital Product Manager!

Ever wondered, what on earth does a product manager in the charity sector actually do? Here is your chance to find out! Every fortnight, I explore my highlights, the puzzle and conundrums I am still mulling over and the learning or ideas that have motivated my work.

Highlights and achievements

Becoming a Certified Professional Product Owner with Scrum.org and Agile. Confirming funding to explore how we might make signposting better for young people.

Puzzles and conundrums

How do we improve navigation through local services?

As I mentioned above, we have funding to explore how we might make signposting better for young people. At an individual level, we know that navigating local service information online can be difficult, overwhelming, and confusing for young people particularly those with additional needs. We are driven to act because we currently live in a world where it is easier for young people to find the latest deal, or the best place to eat, than it is to find the help they need when looking online.

This inability to navigate local service information isn’t unique to people looking for help. This challenge is also seen within the services they try to access and those who commission services. Many are looking for others working in the same space, to ensure the individuals they work with have the wraparound support they need. Many organisations spend the time and energy collecting and collating this information. This is time intense to create and maintain.

We want to explore the options for improving the availability and accuracy of this information, whilst also allowing organisations to reduce the time needed to collate and maintain local information.

We believe that local service information is an asset of that community and should be owned by that community, so we are doing this in partnership with the sector and want to build on the great work that has already been done in this space. Our initial work focuses on further exploring what is already out there, and exploring options for improving connectivity to services, before looking to agree on a sustainable and united approach to do this going forward.

Our first job is to further explore and clarity the problem. If you are interested, please get in touch on kathryn.dingle@thinknpc.org or comment below.

Are we part of the problem?

I had an interesting catch up with Steph from Leap Confronting Conflict. Our discussions focused on how your identity is one of the biggest influences on your behaviour and our framing, our organisation culture and internal processes could be reinforcing and hindering change.

Example 1: If you run a course about conflict resolution for young people and all those who join know they are there because they have experienced violence in the community. Could identifying as someone who lives experience conflict and violence help or hinder progress towards outcomes?

Could the way we frame the course before and during the course impact their outcomes? It is not to say that we ignore it completely, as services should be trauma-informed, but if we were to frame all communications and activities around the aspirations they are seeking to achieve (such as a survivor of violence or a campaigner etc), rather than the circumstances that brought them into the room, would individuals be in a better position to act on the changes they want to make?

Example 2: Another way of looking at it could be, that our perspective on our identity is strongest influencing factor. For example, as a charity sector we often identity as ‘we are a sector that is overworked and has no money but is doing good.’ If you think about this from tech perspective, we are treating like a feature/part of the sector, but is in fact a bug in the system that needs fixing. A bug which sometimes works in our favour to get money, but could in fact be decreasing our success. If treated like a bug, then we might come at it with a different perspective or not identity as it, rather than accepting it and continuing as we are. Could the things we identify as a within the sector be holding us back?

Lessons and links

Is the bystander effect getting in the way of your work?

I also had the realisation of a fundamental reason why break out rooms increase engagement and creativity within workshops (both online and offline). There are the obvious factors such as confidence to speak out in a large group, or a lack of facilitation to bring all voices into the room.

However, the bystander effect also plays a significant role in engagement. The bystander effect is the psychological theory that individuals are less likely to offer help another when there are other people present and this increases as the more people are present. Therefore, the more people in the zoom call when an open question is asked, the less likely you are to get people to volunteer information.

Ways around this include having a once around the room, if you have a small enough group or anonymous answers using something like Mentimeter, a Jamboards or Miro for larger groups, or pausing and embrace silence by counting to 10 before responding.

Links to explore

Until next time!

Thanks for reading – I would love to connect. I don’t know all the answers. In fact I am usually the one asking questions, so please do share your thoughts, ideas or challenge!