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The trees, the forest & the ecosystem... time to talk about our payment policy

April 20, 2021

Date of publication: 6 December 2020

Staying involved in this community from across the ocean has been such a bright spot during this difficult year. I was thrilled to be able to join in the Co-Production Collective launch in October! I love our co-produced vision, mission, values, name, and approach to co-production. Celebrating with so many of you gave me more energy than caffeine. To us, co-production is an approach to working together in equal partnership and for equal benefit. This means living our core values. That’s it! You know the expression you can’t see the forest for the trees? Well no matter what comes ahead, remember that practicing co-production as we understand it is our ‘forest’ at Co-Production Collective. So please keep that big picture goal in mind: we want to live our values and practice co-production by working together as equal partners for equal benefit.

A landscape of fir trees with the cityscape of Toronto on the horizon
This is the actual forest I see every day in Toronto. It’s been lovely watching the colours change this autumn

Co-producing our payment policy

At the launch, the wonderful Cristina (Serrao), one of the Co-Production Collective’s many co-producers announced that it’s time for us to co-produce our own payment policy! Over the past few years, we’ve already learned a lot about payment. And so… I’ve been working with Niccola and Lizzie to write down everything that we’ve figured out as a community so far i.e. since 2017 when we started co-producing the Collective. I’ve produced a first draft of a payment policy (see below for a link to this) that weaves together practices we’ve tried out, regulatory details we’ve learned, and suggestions for how we could fill in a few gaps.

A tree lying on the ground with a large section that has been gnawed by a beaver
A beaver in my neighbourhood has been munching on actual trees!

Any policy no matter what it is about can get pretty long and detailed, and it sometimes makes my brain foggy to think about every little detail involved in how we try to share power through payment, given the limited power Co-Production Collective has within the constraints of certain rules (which are shaped by institutions with more power). Confusing, right? So much so that this took me wayyyy longer to string together than I expected. But let’s not miss the forest for the detailed trees! One more time - this is the ‘forest’ or big picture we want to focus on: we believe co-production is about working together in equal partnership and for equal benefit by living our core values. That means this policy isn’t at all finished. This draft is our way of transparently sharing all the details we know so far, so that everyone has the tools to join in crafting this policy together. Now, anyone who wants to can take a look and start contributing to transforming this into the best policy we can! If you enjoy nerding out about exactly how we can practice co-production in all we do together, I hope you’ll join me in examining as many details or ‘trees’ as you like. And if you’d rather help us focus on the big picture ‘forest’ of what co-production means to us, that’s great too. Of course, our approach to payment isn’t totally up to us, because our ‘forest’ of practicing co-production depends on the bigger ‘ecosystem’ we live in. In other words, there are laws and regulations we need to follow. Oli Williams’ recent tweet kicked off a great conversation about how hard it is to find a good way to pay people within current systems. Thanks Oli and everyone who shared resources in response! I’m still absorbing them. Clearly, the ‘ecosystem’ of rules shaping payment in co-production has it's issues. This first draft of our policy draws from the advice Co-Production Collective has received so far about rules we’re responsible for following. It’s now up to us to develop the best policy we can that works within the current regulations. Fortunately, being ‘challenging’ is also one of our core values! Many of us in Co-Production Collective have already been joining in conversations about how regulations could be improved or interpreted differently. If you have more thoughts about how we might advocate for changes that would better support co-production, feel free to chime in when you comment on the draft. We can’t control everything, but I hope that eventually a better ‘ecosystem’ will help our ‘forest’ of co-production thrive. For now though, it’s finally time to co-produce our payment policy.

How can I get involved?

For this first stage, please get involved by adding your thoughts, ideas and comments to our draft policy document. You can do this in a couple of ways:

  1. Comment live in the Google Docs version of our draft payment policy. It begins with a few tips on how to do this in case you aren't familiar. OR
  2. Download a Word document copy of the draft payment policy and add your comments, then email it back to us at coproduction@ucl.ac.uk

If you would like to be paid for your time to provide comprehensive feedback on our draft payment policy please email us on coproduction@ucl.ac.uk and we will organise this with you. Please share your thoughts and ideas by Friday 22 January 2021 (deadline extended from initial 8 January date).After this date, we’ll build everyone’s ideas into a new draft. We may discover questions that can’t be resolved by collecting comments, so we’ll plan more in-depth co-production if needed. Once our Collective is happy with a new draft, we’ll check in with those of you who know the regulatory technicalities well. Eventually, we’ll have a new and improved co-produced policy ready to help us carry out our work together. Looking ahead, the Collective will begin co-creating budget planning in 2021, so if you like numbers then look out for this next year! I can’t wait to see what we come up with! Thank you for trusting me with getting it to this stage, and to Niccola and Lizzie for help in getting it this far.

See you soon I hope!

Susan

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