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Diving in: Reflections on evaluating ourselves

February 22, 2024

Written by Co-Production Collective co-producers from the Measuring Success team

The ‘Measuring Success in Co-production: Learning by Doing’ funding and support programme is exploring what meaning we can make from the journey of co-production, as well as the destination (what we hope we will achieve). While the eight funded co-production projects (see the Funded Projects tab on this web page) are getting started, we would like to share our approach to understanding our own ways of working through the values and principles of co-production.  

Testing the water – deciding on direction of travel!

The team behind the Measuring Success in Co-production programme (detailed at the bottom of this page) came together for the first time in Spring 2023 to co-produce the programme, application and review processes, prior to the award of the funding to the successful applicants. This involved creating information sharing and networking sessions as well as developing a bespoke application and funding process. As each of us brings our own different perspective and experience to the team, we felt that it was important that we reflected upon our own work in putting together and implementing the funding and support processes. The funded projects themselves are exploring both the impact and evaluation of
co-production (understanding the difference that it makes and how to measure this) within the themes of climate change, mental health and wellbeing. We will share more about their progress later in the year.

From an early stage we agreed that if we expect the funded project teams to evaluate themselves, then we should ‘dive in’ and do the same. We communicated how we had started thinking about this and how we could apply the principles of co-production in our previous blog. At Co-Production Collective, we believe reflective practice is essential to capturing everyone's experiences and actions, which can be used to improve and develop an inclusive approach to learning and developing as a team. In fact, one of our core values is about being Reflective. This value is part of our Co-Production Collective approach, which also includes being Inclusive, Transparent, Kind, and Embracing change (You can read more about our values on this web page). These values are crucial to ensure effective co-production and evaluation practices.  

Getting the measure of the currents

As part of our co-production processes all team members have embarked on reflecting and evaluating different aspects of the overall programme.

We are working with People’s Voice Media to capture some of our individual experiences of our co-production journeys via an approach called community reporting through short, filmed interviews. You can see some of our previous work with People’s Voice Media to give you a flavour.

Another approach we are using, is to create a reflective space in our work by setting up a Padlet, an online digital tool the set-up of which was 'co-designed' by the team members. The Padlet sets out the values and principles of co-production and provides a space to capture the experiences of everyone involved in the programme against these. Everyone in the team can participate in the space. There is an option for people to choose to post anonymously. However, this can be tricky; if some people post using their names and others don’t, this can suggest who the anonymous posts may be from. Therefore, this needs discussion during the planning stage as to how it could influence the contributions.

To illustrate how we have incorporated the co-production principles and values into the Padlet, the value of being transparent entails addressing power imbalances and hierarchies, as well as sharing roles and responsibilities. To evaluate this value, team members were asked to reflect on the allocation of roles and responsibilities and note down their personal thoughts on what has gone well and what could have been better.

Picture of the Padlet screen, depicting the teams discussions about evaluating the value of transparency.
Home page from Measuring Success Padlet

Capturing our thoughts and reflections throughout the project, helps us to evaluate co-production in action and continuously reflect, learn and improve. This approach allows us to tangibly look at our experiences and actions and use them to make more informed decisions in upcoming tasks and the programme's future trajectory. Ultimately, this exercise aims to improve the quality of everyone's involvement and promote a more inclusive and transparent way of working. One example of this in action, is that a suggestion on the Padlet was that we also introduce a space where we can talk through our learning, reflections and ideas. So that is exactly what we did! At the midway point of the project, we came together on Zoom and looked at the key messages coming up in the Padlet. Another action was setting up ‘drop in’ Zoom meetings to enable us to meet more informally and build relationships.  

Scree grab of Padlet screen for teams to discuss how to build and maintain relationships.
Building and maintaing relationships page from Measuring Success Padlet

This is what we found at our mid-point reflection:

  • There were many positive reflections shared on the Padlet including the opportunity to work collaboratively with different people, building and maintaining relationships. People felt valued and that they had added value to the project, we learned from each other and confidence in our abilities increased.
  • The Measuring Success project team is supported by Co-Production Collective. The work of the Collective staff was appreciated as it was seen to encourage people on the wider team to work effectively. The full team was able to build trust in each other, supporting people to take responsibility for and complete tasks. Team members commented that they were using the skills and knowledge learned in other projects and recognised that we were trying to model co-production values by working in a more equitable way.

Surfing the waves together and embracing change

We were also able to identify things we needed to work on as a co-production team to ensure good collaboration throughout the programme. This included:

  • Our need to continuously revisit and refresh how we organise our work together.
  • We felt we could have spent more time at the start of the programme, on relationships to share interests, skills, expertise and strengths.
  • We acknowledged that it is difficult to build these relationships online, so we discussed giving permission to make individual contacts outside of work emails, and discussed exploring what other spaces were available to get to know one another.
  • All of the team are working on other things too, so it can be hard to know when people are available or busy. We also recognised that sometimes availability is unpredictable.

This reflective conversational space was felt to be evolving and valued and we all wanted to recreate this again and not just rely on the Padlet. Our conversations brought to the fore the difficulties with creating time and space for reflection. Though it helps when there are reminders, different ways to contribute and when access to reflective spaces is made easier (e.g. regularly sharing the link to the Padlet is a good prompt and better than trying to remember). We will meet again for another reflective session and this time plan to use smaller groups to enable richer conversations that feed into the success of the programme.

Reflection can be challenging for good reasons; it prompts us to look at ourselves and how our thoughts, feeling and prior assumptions affect the way we co-produce together. There can be a tension between the need to get on and deliver the project and see reflection as a ‘nice to have’, or extra, rather than crucial to the work.

Finding a way to calmer shores  

As we move forward to the next stage of the programme, we will take all our collective reflections on board to learn, improve and lead by example as the funded projects embark on their own evaluations. Although the seas may be calm, as we have noted, co-production has its ups and downs and may sometimes hit the rocks, but ‘diving in’ and exploring these processes can help guide us to calmer shores.

The Measuring Success Team

Our team brings together people with a diverse range of expertise and lived/living experiences and will be supporting the funded projects. The team includes:

Written by Co-Production Collective co-producers from the Measuring Success team.

How else can we help?

If you have any immediate questions or would like more information on anything in this blog or to become a member of the Co-Production Collective and receive our newsletter, please contact us via email:

Picture credit to Juan Davila from Unsplash.

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