Setting up our new think tank means we’ve got a hell of a ‘to-do’ list. It’s difficult to know where to start in many ways because everything is connected to everything else. You can’t establish a charity without a donation – but then it’s difficult to accept donations if you aren’t registered as a charity. You can’t make the organisation real to customers without having an identity (no, it’s not going to be ‘new think tank’) – but then effective branding depends on seeing how your customers react to a real product offer. Potential partners want to see how well an online research community works – but without these partners you might struggle to attract the community to do the research.

Which is to say: it’s somewhat inevitably about taking a leap of faith, for us and others. This doesn’t mean blind faith. Everyday we get really nice feedback on the idea of a think tank based on frontline expertise and experience. Organisations want to talk about getting involved and working with us. This site keeps getting more hits and the word keeps spreading. We’re more and more convinced there’s something real and exciting here. Now it’s ‘just’ about carving it out of the marble, as it were.

An important thing to remind ourselves is to trust the process. It’s very tempting to try to leap forward a few steps all at once – to design a logo or launch a website etc – but then we’d only have to undo it later (if we could, that is). It’s inevitably more of a bit-by-bit process – crafting as you go rather than following a grand design perhaps – which also echoes the philosophy behind the whole project.

One phrase you hear very rarely in thinktankland is ‘I don’t know.’ But we don’t know. We pretend to, sometimes. We might even think we know, but most of the time we don’t. And if we think this is a secret we’ve successfully kept to ourselves – well, you might have been surprised by some of the comments about think tanks in the customer insight workshops we’ve been holding recently.

The same applies to this project. We don’t think we’re the experts on social policy. The experts are the people who work in and who experience public services. This blog might be the longest professional suicide note in history or it might be the start of something really special. We don’t know. Do you?

(Talking about faith, one think tank we love is Ekklesia. They helped out with promoting and hosting downloads of the recent Spartacus report. Good work and congratulations to all involved.)

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