Some definitions

What on earth am I talking about?

I use a lot of what you can either call buzzwords or you could call specialist language.  I try to plain English stuff as much as possible and am happy to be called on it if I fail to do that but this is a list of some of the terms that you may want definitions of.  I am referencing to some of my back catalogue here – this is just intended for ease of reference.  I’m running it as a living list so will update it as I go along:

Asset Based Community Development or Asset Based Practice:  

Simply put this is about working with communities (and individuals) from the perspective of their strengths and own ambitions rather than focusing on deficits or imposing our own view of what they ‘need’.  The background for this is in research from John L. McKnight and John P. Kretzmann who are academics at the Insittue for policy research at Northwestern,  They wrote a book in 1993 called Building Communities from the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing A Community’s Assets.  You can read more about their work here.

I also really rate Jim Diers who led a lot of the community organising work in Seattle and you can find his website here.

Here in the UK Cormac Russell from Nurture development is a centre of excellence for ABCD.


I tend to use the NEF definition of this:  Co-production means delivering public services in an equal and reciprocal relationship between professionals, people using services, their families and their neighbours. Where activities are co-produced in this way, both services and neighbourhoods become far more effective agents of change.

This post has some more background and references as well as links to the paper.

System thinking: 

If you want a bit of an intro to systems thinking then this book by Donella Meadows  is excellent and she has a number or resources and references on here that are also really helpful.  This post I wrote on this in 2018 reflects my view that all change is in fact systems change.

Action research: 

This is a huge topic about a method which is based around simple cycle of plan, act, observe, reflect.  If you are interested then I would recommend Danny Burn’s book on Systemic Action research as this is really brilliant at linking systems thinking and participatory action research.

Digital in all its many forms: 

Lots on the blog about this but here are some of my reflections on it, written when I left my role at Cancer Research and is probably a good point of entry as is this piece about my theory that people get stuck at a particular definition of digital .

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