Coproduction is a buzz word. It gets used a lot. And it gets used to describe a lot of things.
We always start by thinking about power and control. I guess that's because we are used to not having either, despite being told we have been given them.
So, for us, coproduction is not a new type of engagement or involvement. Engagement and involvement always rely on someone else saying you can get involved. Usually the "someone else" is your service provider, local authority or government. As long as someone has the power to choose to involve you, they can choose to stop involving you as well. Same goes for empowerment, engagement and all these other buzz words for shifting how things work between the powerful and less powerful.
The hard reality is that the "someone else" really does hold the power and control. They have the money, the influence, the professional training, sometimes even the democratic right if they were elected. As long as "someone else" holds power and control, engagement and involvement are hugely important for improving the quality of services, policies and planning.
The problem for us comes when "someone else" holds the power but believes (or pretends) that we are all working as equals and we are coproducing.
We came up with a way of trying to explain the difference between involvement and coproduction. We call it "My space, Your space, Shared space". The idea was sparked by a chance comment from Professor Catherine Robinson 18 months ago when we were trying to work out why we couldn't communicate how our vision of "team research" was different from the teams in most inclusive research.
Over the 18 months, the seed of an idea has grown into something we are ready to put out there as our contribution to the debate on the future relationship of public services and public.
Do watch the PowerPoint show, and let us know what you think.
If it makes sense but leaves you wondering how to do it, you are welcome to talk to us about workshops, consultancy and action learning sets.
If you think it's a load of cobblers as a concept or completely impractical as a practice, we'd love to hear why. We love critical friends who help refine and challenge our thinking.