Here’s our idea – let us know what you think

We’ve been working on this project for a few months now and here’s where we’ve got to. Below is something like a marketing description, but it also indicates the functionality we’re looking at for our proof-of-concept website. It’s still work-in-progress, but let us know what you think. (It won’t be called ‘New think tank’ of course, that’s just a stand-in name – suggestions for that are welcome as well).

[New think tank] connects people and organisations to improve social policy.

[New think tank] is a social network for the people and organisations who use and provide public and voluntary services. With the [New think tank] community, you can conduct policy and research work that’s credible, affordable, and timely.


The [New think tank] community is made up of people who use and provide public services. They’ll help you understand what’s happening at the frontline, and to develop practical and popular proposals. This will help to give your organisation credible answers and a stronger profile.


Because it’s online, [New think tank] is a very cost-effective way to conduct policy and research work. Through [New think tank] you can share intelligence, recruit and work with partners, and even find funding for projects.


[New think tank] enables you to conduct policy and research work quickly and easily. You can instantly test out ideas for a new research project and invite people to participate in it, invite suggestions for a policy statement or consultation response, or source relevant case studies for a report or news story.

With [New think tank], you can develop and deliver a project from start to finish – you can even commission a new project in minutes. Here’s how:

Create a profile – for you or your organisation, then connect and communicate with others. Share news and publicise events. You can import your profile from other social networks such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and even login using your profiles from these networks.

Test out ideas – post questions, start discussions and propose projects. The most popular ideas and projects get featured most prominently. You can also follow and comment using other social networks.

Conduct projects – start a project and invite others to participate. Create an open or invite-only forum and assemble a virtual project team. Post questions and surveys, or draft and edit reports collaboratively.

Find partners – recruit other organisations to partner with, or find funding for a project. Host forums to manage projects, store and share useful documents, and easily track project activity wherever you and your partners are.

Share findings – publish and promote your projects. Use the site as a hub to share your findings and recommendations. Automatically send updates to and from other social networks, and use the community to disseminate your work more widely.

7 Comments on “Here’s our idea – let us know what you think”

  1. Alex Kenmure says:

    That’s interesting… from this description it feels like the main customer demographic for this offer would be… other think tanks! I’ve said in the past that I really love this idea and nothing has changed my mind on that, but I’ve still struggled to imagine how I would engage with this as a customer. But if I think of it as a meeting place for both frontline deliverers/users and policy thinkers, I can see how this might be attractive.

    User/deliverer: I have experience/insights relating to the field I work in, but I don’t always find it easy to communicate, or have the space to analyse/challenge what I do

    Policy wonk: I have the time and skills to analyse social policy, but I don’t always have the experience/access to resource to enrich my study and build credibility.

    Sorry if I’m a little out of the loop, but up to now this has felt an initiative marketed primarily at deliverers, but could it be that it should equally be marketed at the “think tank” market as well?

    • Thanks Alex. You’re right (I hope) that as the community develops it could become an increasingly useful place for policy wonks as well as delivers/providers and users – as you say, a meeting place. I think it’s unlikely that many think tankers will want to be involved at an early stage (assuming the project takes off), because a social network represents such a different model to the traditional think tank ‘expert’ approach, but perhaps I’m wrong about this. But I certainly hope that policy people from local government, central government, sector representative bodies etc will join up and participate, as a way of connecting to the frontline and to a wider range of expertise and experience. The other thing about social networks is that, whoever they are aimed at first and whatever the marketing looks like, you probably can’t ever fully anticipate who will end up using them and in what ways – which is part of the excitement and why this is necessarily experimental.

  2. r0landharwood says:

    Love the new venture Mike. I’m no expert in the world of think tanks but it strikes me any strategy or policy is pointless unless it is inextricably linked with doing/experiments/failing. Arise a hoard of Do Tanks, but are they really? Anyway, some might call that innovation but I’ve gone off that word recently so won’t (

    This all reminds me of a Business Breakfast with Karim Lakhani at Nesta about 5 years ago where we ended on the somewhat radical notion that political parties will become redundant as citizens become more connected, social and disenfranchaised with the status quo. Speaking of which, the one thing that seems to be missing from your list is around campaigning/campaigns which strikes me as a critical component of such a Brave new world where anything worth changing will require groups of people to mobile effectively.

    As an aside, how about that for a name – ‘Mobilise’? We had it as a provisional name for a project we did with Orange a few years ago (which was subsquently rebranded ‘Do Some Good’) and I’ve retained a soft spot for the name.

    Anyway, keep on keepin’ on,

    • Thanks Roland. I agree that think tanks need stronger connections to practice – whether by testing out ideas themselves or (as envisaged by this project) by their work being done by and with practitioners and the users of public services. Campaigning for ideas and approaches developed through this type of approach would be another activity that would obviously benefit from mass mobilisation, though it’s probably important for our think tank not to be seen ‘just’ as a campaigning body. And I like ‘mobilise’ and other names that reflect energy and mass participation. I thought your recent innovation blog was great as well.

  3. davidsimoesbrown says:

    Hi Mike,

    I agree with Alex’s drift about being clearer who it’s aimed at. Perhaps try rewriting the piece from the pov of attracting a service user. The benefit will still be clear to wonks or researchers etc.
    I quite like New Think Tank as a name actually but it arguable lacks your USP which is, if I understand it correctly, that it’s for real people and real service providers. It (and the web channel) has a distinctly crowdsourcing flavour so how about these for name start-points? (Quite like Mobilise too Roland).

    Think Crowd
    Crowdthink Tank
    Lead User Think Tank

    • Thanks David, this is a useful comment. I’ve had a go at redrafting the description to incorporate a service user and provider/practitioner perspective (i.e. why they could be interested in getting involved), and we’ll be testing this description out at our workshop this week. I’ll also post it on the site for comment. We’ll also be asking for ideas for the name as well – though we’ll probably avoid referring to it as a ‘think tank’ since most of our intended audiences/participants don’t know what think tanks are (and if they do, they tend to be somewhat critical of them)!

Let us know what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s