Making information sharing the anti-problem

Just a quickie this week. I wanted to share a technique which we have picked up recently, and used in a workshop for colleagues working across health and social care in the North West.  They have recognised that information and technology will enable them to design and deliver those really ambitious plans for change and integration that everyone in the public services has been hearing about.  So how to help them start to think about the issues?  We chose a technique called the Anti-Problem.

Rather than asking people to describe barriers to sharing, or to suggest solutions, we asked small groups (up to about 8) to think about how they would stop any information being shared.  Ever.  There were no limits to the creativity – anything was possible, so long as they were working to ensure that not a sausage was shared.

The shocked silence that greeted me when I outlined the task had me momentarily worried, before a wave of laughter broke.  Groups got stuck in, coming up with lists of activities, slogans (“Loose Lips Sink Ships” made an appearance), logos – anything and everything.  There was a healthy dose of cynicism in the room (“permanent restructuring” was one suggestion, I think, as were the enforcement capabilities of the ICO!) but it made for a much more enthusiastic and open discussion.  Of course, we then asked groups to swap suggestions, and start to sabotage the plans to enable information to be shared after all, but it made for an interesting discussion!

Gamestorming book front coverThe technique came from a book called Gamestorming, lent to me by an old friend a couple of weeks ago.  I held my nose slightly at the subtitle (“A Playbook for Innovators, Rulebreakers, and Changemakers”) but it has proved a great source of inspiration as we seek to constantly find new ways to help local areas to think through how they might seek solutions to the information sharing issues they face.  You can read more about the technique we used, and others from the book, on the Gamestorming website.