Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Uscreate


Open Data Challenge? Heritage, Culture, Stakeholder research…

As part of each of the Open Data Challenges, we commission user research into the Challenge.

The research is intended to provide actionable insight to inspire the design of products and services that will be developed by teams competing in the Challenge.

This user research includes outputs such as user personas and user journeys for teams to use at key stages of development of their ideas. This resource is not intended to be exhaustive and teams are encouraged to undertake their own research in order to further refine their product/service.

We also train teams at our meetups to undertake user research so that a user focus can form an ongoing part of the development of their product.

December 3, 2014

Heritage + Culture Open Data Challenge – User and Stakeholder Research

Joanna Choukeir, Head of Public Sector Design and Innovation at Uscreates, is the strategic creative consultant who provide user research for the Open Data Challenge Series. She sets out the key findings from the user research for the Food Open Data Challenge and introduces the full research report which is available for download.

Uscreates undertook a piece of user insight research on behalf of Nesta and the Open Data Institute to support the teams taking part in the Heritage and Culture open date challenge.

The aim of the user research is to provide teams with an insight into some of the opportunities and challenges facing potential audience members and other stakeholders from the heritage and culture sector.

The process, including details of who we interviewed, can be found in the user research slide deck. Teams should use this research to gain a high level understanding of the issues relating to the groups they want to help, to identify where there might be a need for a tool or service. We would expect teams to use this as a starting point for their own investigation.

Within the research, we identified links between stakeholders and used the Audience Agency segmentation to understand the different types of visitors of heritage and culture opportunities.

Map of stakeholder interactions: we mapped the different interactions – both financial and informational – that take place between the key players in the heritage and culture space. This diagram visualises the complexity of this landscape.

Audience Agency Segmentor:

The Audience Agency brought together data to inform their audience segmentation, which comprises of 10 different groups. These are divided into those who are highly engaged, those who are medium engaged and those who are lower engaged.

More detail about each segment, including their prevalence in different geographic areas of the UK, can be found at

In terms of accessing heritage and culture the main way people said that they were made aware of things to see and do was from friends and families. They then usually search for more information online. People said they made the decision to go somewhere if they trusted the opinion of the person who recommended it to them, or knew and trusted the venue or creators.

They were also helped in their decision making by knowing how easy the place would be for them to access and enjoy. Potential audiences’ main motivations for visiting places were enjoyment, learning, socialising and creating memories for families.

Some of the challenges facing potential audiences were a sense that some things were not for them, physical inaccessibility, not understanding what was on offer, and more practical issues like poor value for money and lack of time. It should be noted that income was not a simple predictor of engagement as people’s motivation to engage played a bigger role.

Opportunities for outreach organisations and intermediaries (such as curators, agents, the press and marketing) are that they can create different types of content including digital content, the breaking down of barriers for some groups of the population, engaging families for more sustainable impact, and different funding and partnership opportunities. Some of their main challenges are finding and reaching out to people who are not engaging, expense of intensive outreach, and facilitating real accessibility for all.

Some of the opportunities for heritage and culture institutions identified are; funding for engagement programmes, use of social media, creating engaging activities, the ability to offer reduced priced or free tickets, partnerships with outreach organisations, and taking the work they do out into communities who may not normally engage.

Amongst the challenges that institutions face are the costs associated with audience engagement, determining who low engagers are and how to reach them, practicalities of offering people digital content, low uptake of some initiatives, and the level of resource, knowledge and expertise to engage diverse groups of people.

Creators (such as artists, playwrights and conservationists) were asked about how they engage with audiences and how they establish themselves within the sector. In terms of engaging audiences, the main opportunities are the use of social media and the diverse ways of presenting their work to people.

Challenges identified were the money required to create and promote their work, and the concern about greater free access devaluing their work.

In terms of becoming creators, the opportunities were around the availability of networks and funding from a range of sources. However there are challenges in terms of finding out about appropriate funding opportunities and the overall cost of making a career out of being a creator.

Funders were asked about their funding process, decisions about what to fund and how they measure impact. Some of the opportunities for them are numerous and diverse applications for their fund, and networks that they can easily reach people through.

The challenges for them are reaching people who may not be in those networks, having to reject some good projects, and measuring the impact of their investment in non-financial terms.

A variety of existing and exciting products and services were identified by the people we spoke to, ranging from apps that tell you about artefacts you are looking at in a range of amenities, to websites that help creators identify grants they can apply for. However, each group also identified areas where they felt there were gaps in the market and where additional information, data or tools could help them.

Things such as real accessibility, online information about smaller cultural community groups, promoting understanding about what culture is, digital interfaces and content, and reaching the ‘hard to reach’ groups were all cited as potential opportunities for the use of open data.

Photo Credit: Stephan Caspar via Flickr CC

– See more at:

Big Society needs Big Citizens?

Does a citizen centric approach delivers valued public services?

Prof. Jeff French delivered this speech to Uscreate

I want to start this blog by proposing a hypothesis:

“Adopting a citizen centric approach and relationship marketing principles is key to delivering valued public services“.

Change management in the public sector over the last 10 years has been driven mostly by focus on business planning, service delivery, better systems management and more recently, a growing focus on diversity of supply and competition.

There has been a concerted effort to import such management disciplines from the private sector to increase efficiency and effectiveness; concepts such as Lean Management have been widely adopted.

What the public sector has failed to grasp is that such processes are second order functions in most private sector organisations.

A few public sector organisations have also gone beyond this systems approach to apply some marketing principles. However, in the majority of public sector, marketing is perceived in an outmoded way as being about slick information giving, promotions and a bit of market research to help understand user needs.

A new way of perceiving managerial responsibility and functions together with a more up-to-date view of marketing’s contribution to public issues and service delivery is needed throughout the public sector.

First order functions in successful businesses are focused on winning and retaining customers

and delighting the customers through the development of innovative and desirable products and services.

Successful businesses do not start with the development of efficient and effective back room systems: these come in as supportive functions to the first order function of Marketing which is focused on understanding and building relationships with customers. This approach is known as Relationship Marketing.

To achieve success there has in the business sector over the last 40 years been more and more emphasis on delivering excellence by ensuring a consistent customer centric driven approach. This approach has been focused on building mutually beneficial long term relationships between providers and users of services or products.

Many of the basic business processes for developing products and services, such as total quality management, are well established and the delivery of excellence in these areas is seen as no more than a base line requirement for success not the reason for success.

The shift from a product and service orientation towards a more customer relationship focused orientation has been profound in the private sector, but much less marked in the public sector, in which a systems efficiency and effectiveness focus still dominates management and professional thinking.

A more sustainable and culturally relevant approach

People who work in the public sector do so partly because such roles provide them with a strong sense of satisfaction.  However, in practice, they often find themselves dealing with the vagaries of working within a service on the edge of being perceived as institutionally dysfunctional, subject to continuous public disquiet due to a seemingly never ending scandals and perceived falling standards and cut budgets.

One way to move out of this negative space that would appeal to those working in the public service would be to switch emphasis from systems management solutions towards a culturally focused strategy that does what business does, put the user citizen at the core of all planning, management and delivery.

Building a public service culture that is constantly striving to improve services from a citizen user perspective rather than one that is driven by expert opinion about what is best and an obsession with systems efficiency would deliver more appropriate services, motivate and engage staff and deliver the kinds of services in the way people actually want them.

A ‘Citizen Centric’’ approach to service improvement will also gain new respect and regain trust from the public.

Public service providers would no longer be viewed simply as a once great but failing set of post war institutions, putting up with chronic adversity. A new perception would grow, over time, a perception of responsiveness and of a service driven by a strong desire to satisfy people needs and aspirations and engage in a continuous dialog and partnership with users of the service.

The boundaries between user and provider would soften with users and potential users being encouraged and have incentives to take part in policy selection and formulation, service development, implementation and evaluation.

A ‘Big Society’, as defined by the current administration in the UK is one that empowers, facilitates and supports its citizens to create a better life for themselves, their families and everyone else. However such an approach also needs to have its foundations in an ethos of citizen centric service delivery.

Putting more emphasis on citizen driven as well as citizen responsive services is about ensuring that everyone not only gets their needs met but also that as many people as possible help others to get what they need.

The ‘Big Society’ concept is the flip side of a citizen centered approach to public service delivery. It represents a social contract that implicitly accepts that taking forward a citizen focused approach to public service delivery is not a one way street. It involves a change in approach from both providers and also from the consumers of public service.

Existing ‘Big Citizens’ are the thousands of local people who already give their time and energy to help others need to be encouraged, supported and praised. In a new citizen centric public service approach incentives will need to be developed that encourage people to make an active contribution to helping public services become more responsive and also to help deliver some aspects of services or augment basic services.

One of the big challenges will be to develop and deliver forms of incentive, support and encouragement that promote this kind active contribution. The good news is that we know that people are generally disposed to helping others and want to make a social contribution but currently this is not as easy as it should be.

By applying a Relationship Marketing < link to first blog post> approach to building and sustaining active engagement and ownership of the development and delivery of public service these services can not only be sustained but enhanced as new energy, ideas and innovations will be introduced by citizens.

‘Public Service’ not ‘Public Services’

Applying a Relationship Marketing approach will only be possible if a new culture of public services is facilitated.

This is something that central government can encourage by putting in place financial incentives and possibly disincentives.

Central government can also foster a change of culture using ‘soft’ approaches such as training, capturing and making available learning and also by empowering citizens through free access to information about what local providers are doing and how they measure up to the best providers.

Relationship Marketing is also a key factor in reinvigorating public sector staff morale and pride in what they do.

Internal Relationship Marketing to engage and empower staff ideas and contributions will be key to any new reform of public service. Actively building relationships with staff will reinforces and build on their sense of vocation and desire to deliver better and more responsive services to the people that they work for.

Relationship Marketing also means that rather than automatically adopting any tactical approach such as Nudging, Shoving, Smacking or Hugging governments and public sector organisations should insist that systems are put in place that ensure that citizens views, needs and wants are given weight when making decisions about how to promote social well-being.

Intervention approaches such as Nudges are often key ingredients in a successful intervention mix but they are not a universal answer for success in every situation. The recipe for successful public service delivery and to increase public sector staff morale is to adopt a citizen centric approach to planning and service delivery based on the Relationship Marketing philosophy of maximising dialog and the development of mutually owned solutions to social challenges.

Professor Jeff French is a global leader in the theory and application of behaviour change and social marketing.




May 2023

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