What springs to mind when you think of the saying ‘trade secrets’? Is it of someone jealously guarding their skill or the secret to their success? Or is it of people openly trading their knowledge? Chances are it’s the former.
In a recent meeting with Commonweal Housing’s CEO Ashley Horsey, and a potential project partner, he was telling her about Commonweal and what we are working on, how we operate and do things, and about our potential future project areas.
Half way through he suddenly stopped and laughed and said “I’m giving away all of our trade secrets here aren’t I?” But the response Ashley got was a positive one, in return he received more knowledge and a share of the areas the potential partner is looking at and who they have spoken to.
And why not? We are all in the same business, all striving to bring about brilliant or simple solutions to the social injustices we are fighting against. Why not share our information freely? If we aren’t in a position to create or take forward a project, shouldn’t we give other people the chance to do it instead?
We all know there is strength in numbers. Project collaborations give greater voice and wider influence, and potentially allow for more people to access much needed help. Imagine if this approach was taken up across industries, from pharmaceuticals to NGOs, the positive benefits to society could be enormous.
The Commonweal way is to independently evaluate our projects and then to shout about the findings. This has worked well so far, but in an ever moving climate of hot topics what works well today may well be tomorrow’s chip paper. That’s why with our Peer Landlord project, of shared and supportive housing, we are asking our project partners – Thames Reach and Catch 22 to promote the project, tell people that it’s working and why it’s working, and even the parts that haven’t worked. We will be releasing an interim findings report this autumn from our evaluators at York University. This will be a first for Commonweal.
If someone reads that interim report and likes what they read and think they can replicate it to suit another cohort of clients or in a different area, then as far as we are concerned we are happy to trade our secrets.
Top blog image © Coleen Simon @opensource.com