Technology has revolutionised everything in my life. Most of the goods and services I buy have some sort of technology attached to them.

Everything from customer satisfaction forms, registering for a guarantee or finding a set of instructions – pretty much everything is now done on line.

And using my smartphone I can connect to anyone in the world, stream videos and music and buy most things I want.

Technology has enabled me to be a global consumer. If you put your product or service on the the web, I can buy it!

Yet there’s a growing number of people like me looking for more. We don’t just want to be passive consumers of products and services. We don’t want to simply be transacted with and only involved when we have an opinion or a criticism. We want power, involvement and influence over what we receive, and how we receive it. In short, we want to be citizens and not simply consumers.

So how does a citizen differ from a consumer?

Consumers are sold products and services that someone else has made. The emphasis on the provider is to market the product well. Consumers know their rights, and if a product or service doesn’t meet their expectations, they complain and take on the role of critic. If it does meet or exceed their expectations, they tell other people where to buy the product or service and become advocates.

In contrast, Citizens buy products and services and prefer to be involved in their design and development. They want to share their ideas and have power and influence. They want to get behind something that matters. They will get behind a cause and contribute.

Citizens want to buy products that not only do a job, but also a make a difference to the lives of others.

What Do Citizens Need?

Citizens want to be part of something bigger than themselves; A Community of Purpose.

Every community needs a framework, which is a way of understanding why and how we come together. If I don’t know why, I won’t join!

Every Community of Purpose needs:

Purpose – why we come together
Values – how we come together
Activities – what we do together
Outcomes- what we achieve together

How To Create a Community of Purpose?

Over the last few months, we’ve been exploring the world concept of citizenship and brought a group of citizens together in an online community called ‘Through My Eyes and In My Shoes’.

This is housed on Humap Software’s REAL Platform, and is a private social network underpinned by an involvement framework which enables the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Outpatients Team, clinical partners and patients to work together to innovate and continuously improve the patient experience.

‘Through My Eyes’ is about sharing what I notice and appreciate and ‘In My Shoes’ is about sharing my experiences and stories about the impact the service has on me.

It supports the Outpatients Team to:

– Appreciate exactly how it feels to be a patient/clinical partner.
– Learn from, and with, their patients and clinical partners to understand their success and do more of what works well.
– Explore new ways of delivering the service.

Its’ success lies in combining flexible technology with great facilitation to create a Hosted Community of Purpose where everyone participates as much or as little as they want.

As a Community of Purpose, members connect with and commit to:

– A defined purpose; working together to improve Outpatient Services and ensure they deliver Outstanding Care.
– ‘Our Right Way to Care Commitments’ – Right Place, Right Time, Right Support and Right Care to help focus innovation on what is most important to patients and clinical partners using the Outpatients service.
– Every member knows they’re making a difference.
– Their voice is heard.
– They influence what happens in their local hospital/their workplace.
– They meet other Patient Partners and staff in a safe, virtual world.
– They see the direct impact of their involvement.

The Community Host enables and sustains the community. It’s essential that it’s a friendly, welcoming space where it’s easy and time efficient for members to share, explore, appreciate and learn from each other’s experiences, perspectives and ideas.

Defining how Community Involvement works is essential so everyone who joins can be involved in a way that suits their individual needs.

We want members to be able to engage for minutes each month, not hours!

We have 4 Levels of Involvement:

Communicate – some patients simply want to be kept informed, so we keep them updated by sharing videos and information produced by our team about what’s going on in Outpatients.

Improve – some want to help us find new ways to improve our service. Once our group has grown sufficiently we will be running brainstorms and big monthly conversations and inviting people to join our opinion polls, improvement forums and to support our Outpatient Ambassadors in their work locally and nationally.

Share – some want to share their perspectives by joining us in chats and uploading their own videos and comments. We have also started collecting stories for our story space where patients and staff members share inspiring stories and experiences.

Inspire – we have recruited our first Patient Ambassador who will be helping the Outpatients team as part of a national

Communities of Purpose need to be Communities with Power.

We all want to have the power to influence and take ownership over what we receive.

I want to be heard, and I want my words to count. And I want to express my opinions freely and have my perspective impact the services I receive.

Innovative organisations understand this and involve us through inspiring conversations and offer invitations to provide our opinions through conversations, polls and voting.

They create a community of influence and power where citizens are involved in shaping what exists. And as we’ve discovered through our experience, it’s vital to use a blend of the virtual and the physical to achieve some really wonderful outcomes.

Communities of Purpose need to be Communities of Action.

I want to know that I have been heard and that my words have resulted in action. And there are millions of people who want to actively participate in improving and developing the hospitals, schools, businesses, organisations and communities which serve us all.

What do Communities of Purpose need?

There are 4 components to a Community of Purpose.

Real Communities of Purpose only work when they have a host who ensures the community is:

Responsive – responding to the needs of the Group and the individuals.

Evolving – ever changing and evolving as a result of the conversations and dialogue.

Affirming – place to feel heard, to belong and feel part of a collaborative community.

Life Giving – inspiring and energising places where people can grow and develop.

Hiw Important is the role of the Host?

The host’s role is probably the most important in any community. They hold the space and enable the community to function effectively. They play many roles:

The 5 roles of the host in enabling the success of an online community are:

Originator – they enable the community to get off the ground – they help identify and understand the community’s purpose and nature.

Designer – they work with the community to design the spaces, choose the tools and technology that will support it.

Facilitator – they ensure the community works effectively, paying attention to developing relationships, activities and experiences for the community to take part in.

Main Administrator – keeps the community space working effectively so it meets the community’s needs.

Participant – is actively involved in the site as a contributor and in so doing sets the tone of openness and transparency.

It’s our belief that to be a successful digital host requires the same mindset that drives success in hospitality in the world at large. Henri Nouwen sums it up well:

“Hospitality means primarily the creation of free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy.

Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place.

It is not to bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by dividing lines.”

― Henri J.M. Nouwen, Reaching Out: The Three Movements of the Spiritual Life

What Do Good Hosts Need To Understand?

Involvement needs to be at the right level.

Great hosts understand citizens needs around involvement. People like to have choice and in communities they choose to play different roles at different times:

Understanding peoples’ Involvement Drivers and the 5 roles citizens play in communities:

Observers – simply know what’s going on.

Contributors – share and contribute to specific activities that matter to them.

Participants – visit regularly and get involved across a spectrum of activities.

Influencers – instigate and steer the direction of the community.

Hosts – act as facilitators, administrator and participants.

Everything Needs to be Easy and Safe – the conditions for success for REAL Citizenship in the Digital Era!

It may seem obvious, but people want to spend time together in enjoyable and interactive ways. They frequent spaces that are safe, secure and which meet their needs. They want private spaces where they can be honest, and trust that whatever they say will not be judged. They want virtual spaces that are simple and easy to use.

We’ve identified 5 keys to unlock our capability as digital Facilitators.

They are:

1. Understanding the mindset of participants as citizens, not simply consumers of an experience.

2. That as digital facilitators we are creating the conditions for belonging by creating Communities of Purpose.

3. That for a Community of Purpose to have power and make an impact, the role of the digital facilitator as Host is critical.

4. That the host needs to understand peoples’ Involvement Drivers and the 5 roles citizens play in Communities of Purpose.

5. That the digital facilitator creates virtual spaces that are easy and safe to use.

Want to pick up the discussion? – Join us for our session at the Disruptive Innovation Festival Online Conference at 16.30 GMT on Tuesday 7 November where we’ll be exploring Real Citizenship in the Digital Era – Creating Communities of Purpose’. #thinkdif