Tag Archives: RSA Fellowship Council

RSA Fellowship Council Meeting 11 – follow the live blog here #RSAde

I’m live blogging the 11th meeting of the RSA Fellowship Council here from 1.30pm today. The meeting will be led by Bob Porrer (Chair) and Irene Campbell (Deputy Chair) – pictured. Keep refreshing the page for updates, and please use the hashtag #rsafc if you’d like to comment or ask questions via Twitter. 

If you’re a Fellow, please participate if you can – the more interactive and representative the Council is, the better for Fellows!  

The highlights from today’s agenda include: 

  • Announcement from RSA Fellowship Council Chair Bob Porrer re resourcing for the regions and nations
  • Presentation from RSA Head of Technology, Clive Holdsworth, on the RSA’s Technology Strategy 2012-15
  • Review of how the Fellowship Council is working (or not!) led by Irene Campbell 

1330: Bob: Welcome everyone to the last meeting of the current Council. If you’re thinking of standing for election to the new Council, please ensure your nominations are in by midday on the 30 May [more information about upcoming RSA elections]. It’s been agreed with the trustee board that I will stand on with Irene as Chair and Deputy Chair for the first meeting of the new council in September.


As you know there was a working group established to look at resourcing across the RSA. It was agreed there should be some contigency allowed to make it possible to do things fairly quickly. I’ll discuss that in more detail later. The working group had very detailed discussions with all stakeholders. Conclusions? Inevitably we came up with a lot of operational issues, eg, understanding of developing support systems. The reoganisation of the Fellowship Dept is progressing well but lack of capacity is causing a slow service response in contenxt of growing activity in the FEllowship. We saw a need to support governance changes and formulation of the new regional/national teams.

We felt that if changes introduced this autumn were not resourced properly there was a big risk of failure. We suggested two additional programme/ regional managers (formerly known as network managers). We recommended £40K in 2012/14 budget for support against development, and to enhance Catalyst with an additional £15K for admin and to encourage match funding; also leadership training etc.

Our recomendations for future review include that the progress on above changes are reviewed and adjustments made (FC working group can monitor), also that we review the formula for direct funding of regional/national teams in March 2012, also more transparency in resourcing. 

What I want to emphasize is that there will be improved resourcing for regional/national teams in teh coming year. So that’s a really positive outcome.

[Missed comments here because Posterous was playing up – running very slow]

Data protection

Bob: a new legal agreement has been approved. And regional/national chairs will now have access to email addresses in their area once they have signed the agreement.

Comment: consideration should be given to the fact that regional/national fellow databases should only be given to the incoming chairs: what is the point of giving them to outgoing chairs?

Bob: We’ll pass that comment on.

New working groups

Fellowship Council members are as follows:

Regional/ national teams: [sorry missed members will have to insert later]

Thematic networks: Wiard Stark, Ann Packard + Ruth Jindall

RSA Technology Strategy

1350: Clive Holdsworth: Hello I’m the RSA’s new head of technology. This presentation is the same as the one I gave to the trustee board. Reid Hofmann who set up LinkedIn and other venutres made a quote about “It’s not an IT strategy, it’s a technologys strategy”. We already have an intelligent organisation, it’s about making it work better in a more intelligent way. There are six key issues:

1. Most of RSA’s current technologies outdated. Lots of duplication of effort. Many need to be replaced or updated. But the strategy is about better business processes: how do we want to work both now and in the future, rather than let’s just get some cool technologies.

2. The technology strategy supports continuous improvement in how we work. So our intention is to avoid “big bang” approaches and instead work through better business processes. New CRM systems, social CRM systems as they’re called, are far more open and available to everyone. As a “do tank” the RSA doesn’t always have a very efficient way of organising things. We do some good stuff on the nings etc but whether it’s Catalyst project etc we need a better way of doing that.

3. The delivery of the new environment will be done progressively.

4. All of the benefits to fellows which were to be delivered by the former fellowship platform will be delivered by the new strategy, and more. The fellowship platform was built on getting information from our old CRM and that was always going to be a problem.

5. User-centred design (UCD/UX): this is a concept very close to my heart and is all about if you want something to be useful to users then you bring users in early on in the process. One thing we’ve done around that, because you can spend a lot of money on that, we’ve bought in external consultants as well as setting up a user-experience group. The work with Dachis Group is a three stage process. We started off with initial work internally with staff; we’ve just completed a series of behavoural interviews with fellows: how they want to work, why they want to be involved, we’ll publish that. And the final piece of work is looking at fellows collaboratively: we’re following one particular project in Kent. Again, it’s a continuous process.

6. Final point is setting some governance to this: we have a technology stragegy programme board – this acts as a way of scruitinising the project: we have to deliver a business case, show user evidence etc. 

[Clive shows a complex, brightly coloured diagram of how he sees the technology strategy working, with around a dozen independent circles describing the current tech situation and a smaller number of inter-connected circles describing the future situation]

We have some quick wins that we’ve put in place to keep our energy and enthusiasm going.

[Clive shows an even more complex diagram]

All of the different services have to work for everyone. In the centre is our social business technology hub: what you can do is connect different parts of this technology together to deliver different services. These are all examples of the types of different service we do, eg: ‘core 1’ is managing our membership. The big piece of work is around workspaces: delivering projects and that s where we’ve got a couple of quick wins: we’ve been using Basecamp and have campfire in the middle (a collaborative chatter environment). We are trying it out: it’s rented software. One of our key strategic points is rent, before buy, before build. Then if it’s not what we want, we haven’t wasted 1000s of £ in investment. Basecamp is like that. The other pilot we’re running is Huddle. They’re a great UK company based on Silicon Roundabout. Michael wants to introduce Huddle for doing stuff around the Fellowship: offers more features than Basecamp and is very good on delivery. 

A couple of other things around this is that these tools talk to each other. It’s a much richer source of data. Fellows can choose what information they want other fellows to see. You can take info from here and create a completely dynamic fellowship directory.

We had an endorsement from the trustee board and now we need to build a more detailed business case. Will present work around the first stage, the CRM, to the next programme board in June.

[Clive shows this most complex diagram yet: this one shows the complexity of social business technology board choices]

You can see how much choice we’ve got out there – it’s like Tesco’s!

Trustee comment: We did endorse this programme and one of the reasons we endorsed it was because Clive just kept on talking about connecting.

Comment: one of the things that’s frustrated me on this council has been the lack of facilities for us to network with each other. Could you tell me what’s happening on that?

Clive: I will certainly look into that.

Comment: If we’re looking at things like Catalyst bids, Huddle and Basecamp may be a bit of overkill. 

Clive: We’re asking, what are the better ways of delivering projects? Are there any templates we can use? It’s all about ways of working, finding the best ways of working. Better reporting. We need to know which projects are successful. Huddle is good in that because everything can happen in a larger workspace.

Comment: Thank you it’s a real pleasure to hear a tech strategy that doesn’t want to re-work the internet. And can I have a copy of that last graphic?

Bob: You’ll all get a pdf.

Comment (cont): Is there a way of converting people who are members of the general public? Think about it in terms of converting people?

Clive: We can track behaviours and spot people who might be worth approaching.

Comment: I’d like something really simple. What if I’m a Yorkshire fellow and I want to see something happening in Yorkshire? What I find difficult about current situaiton is we haven’t got that.

Clive: Well, that’s something we hope to change with this strategy.

Bob: thank you very much Clive [applause]

Fellowship Council review

1420: Irene: I remember what was here before. We had an advisory council, that didn’t last long. What we have now is so much better. 

Matthew Taylor: and much more influential…

Irene: yes. And through us the fellows’ voice can be heard. The trustees ask for things to be sent back to us. We started with a blank page. Now in quite a good place. A new council starts in September and I think it’s a good time for us to take stock. it would be good to pass something onto the new chair saying this is where we are, this is where we’ve come from. Could you have a think about what’s worked and what could be improved.

[10 mins discussion]

1440: Irene: OK, so let’s feed back: what have we done well, what have we acheived in the last 3 years?

Comment: I’ve been involved for 18 months. When I started, the FC was seen as a talking shop, and since I’ve been involved the FC is now seen as affecting the future direction of the whole organisation. It seems to me.

Irene: so, do we feel we’re representative of the fellows?

Comment: No! As the years have rolled by, we’ve had less space to initiate our own agendas and have been more and more responding to presentations set on powerpoints. We don’t have a real opportunity to set our own agenda.

Irene: There’s two things here, first for the future, we could have more interaction together. For the last few years we’ve done an awful lot of process, but that was important because we’ve influenced the future governance here.

Matthew: I think it’s really really important, there was a report produced that came to various conclusions: memberships down, not sure what role was, governance a nightmare. Many orgs have stopped operating because of those goverance issues. Fellowship council is growing in its influence; one of the battles we have on the trustee board is that we shoudl look into this or that, but we can say don’t worry, the fellowship council is looking into this. The fellowship council needs to be in charge of fellowship matters but not always second guess the trustee board. Doesn’t want to emulate the trustee board. Wants to focus on matters relevant to fellowship.

Comment: activity has shifted to various working groups and thats a very positive shift. The more active council is outside of these meetings the better.

Irene: there’s something here about we dshiudl be more acitve outside of these meetings that I’d like to pick up.

Comment: one of developmetns is when there’s a sub-committee set up, the question is always, who’s the fellowship councillor on this group. Taht;s a good thing.

Comment: I’d disagree with not being able to set agenda. I always assumed that if I talked to Bob and Irene about what I’d like on the agenda, I could.

Comment: that’s not the point I was making.

Irene: Can we stay with this a bit longer?

Comment: If you look at the working groups on this agenda, they’re always at the tail end. Many of us don’t even know who’s on the working group. We should have been passed the technology strategy paper beforehand.

Comment: In terms of future there is scope for newsletters and journal etc is to make a bit more of the fellowship council.

Irene: yes I hope that will happen.

Comment: we started off today by looking at the improved deal in the regions and that wouldn’t have come about if the FC didn’t exist. That has come about because of this forum. Not just a talking shop.

Comment: we should congratulate ourselves on gettigng through the quagmire of governance

Comment: we feel at our table that Catalyst has just gone unbelievably well. And there has been more regional representation and inclusion.

Comment: I’ve been able to go back to my region and say, you’re not alone! And I’ve met some great people through the council.

Comment: The digital engagement working group has worked really closely with staff like Michael and Matthew Mezey and I think made some real changes. The new head of IT and the current technology strategy wouldn’t be happening now the way they are if it wasnt for fellow involvement (through RSAde) in the early stages. We’ve also now got a network of regional digital champions.

Comment: [sorry I missed this].

Matthew: future nominees to the trustee board should be engaging more with the other trustees.

Comment: Is there a chart that shows which regions have been visited by which trustee in the last 12 months?

Matthew: I could show you a list of Dutch mountains…no that’s not not true, Don Pinchbeck has been very good.

Comment: we need now to move forward on sharing best practice and focusing on projects.

Irene: we’ve discussed before acting as conduits for projects.

Comment: we actually don’t talk about what’s happening in the regions. You pick up information over coffee or lunch but that’s it.

Irene: maybe a written report from each region/nation?

Comment: I’m a bit worried about the amount of work we expect from people. Being chair is a lot to ask of people: both Tessy and Bob have put in a tremedous amount of work. Otherwise we’ll see people backing away from RSA saying they dont’ want it to take over their life.

Comment: is there any reason why fellowship councillors can’t see all 14 newsletters?

Comment: with Huddle etc all this can be possible.

Comment: how about a paper from Michael saying these are the highlights from the regions.

Comment: I’d like to defend Don Pinchbeck. He’s been splendid in Yorkshire and is a model that other trustees could do well do follow.

Bob: It’s been a hell of a lot of work for me as chair because of governance stuff. I hope not so much for the next chair. We’ve been successful and we get an awful lot coming to us and that clogs up the agenda. The new council needs to have more discursive stuff and also be careful that we don’t get nittygritty practical stuff coming up from the regions. I think we have achieved a great deal. A little bit to my surprise. WE’ve had a hell of a lot of change in a couple of years.

Irene: We get 3 hours here – would you make it into a day?

[Resounding yes]


1520: CEO’s Report

Matthew Taylor: 5 or 6 years ago the organisation was very well managed very sound but not achieving as much impact as we wanted. We now have lots of numbers but I think the real place for us to improve in the next two years is an emphasis on quality. One of our big challenges together is working with the fellows – make sure the support we give is around those projects which have a game changing capacity. It’s really great when we see Catalyst projects getting third party funding. Three years ago it was kind of anything to get noticed. Now our uber criteria is to pass a technology strategy which can be used by Yorkshiremen.


We need to try to spot the links between debates. There’s been a lively arguement on LInkedin about whether we should do more in manufactures and commerce. Thats a valid argument. We do have a lot more business speakers. But maybe not enough. These are genuine issues. We dont’ have much of a legacy in manufacturing. Five years ago the projects were funded by trustees and the fellowship team was five people. Adam Lent has to raise money for projects. it woudl be great if you could sometimes go into debates and make those connections. The more fellowship councillors could join those debates and make themselves available, would be great.

Any questions?


Report back from Trustees

David Archer (Trustee board Fellowship Council rep): most of the things we discussed have already been covered. Trustees very keen that if there’s more funding, we should get more fellowship councillors involved in the Catalyst working group. Also, the rennovation of the House is continuing apace – both Andy Gibson and myself ahve been in there with our hard hats – all Fellowship Councillors will be invited to grand re-opening. Finally, Luke Johnson’s time as chair of the RSA comes to an end at the time of the AGM this year. We’ve appointed some headhunters (Veritas) to both sift applicaitons from fellows and look for potential outsiders. Don Pinchbeck is chairing the committee that runs the process. If you want to see the ad straight away, I believe it’s on the Vertitas website now.

Comment: Will the Great Room still be available for Fellows’ use once a month?

David: yes, it’s hoped so. A regular timeslot every month, eg: first Tuesday. There should be time allocated for fellowship use and its up to the FC to work out how that’s managed.

Matthew: we’ll charge thousands of pounds for the Great Room and need to make sure that fellows’ priviledge isnt’ abused. For each event, there will have to be really clear positive outcomes for the RSA rather than just a jolly.

Comment: you said something in the paper about increasing the number of Catalyst bids? I don’t think it’s a quality issue I think it’s a quantity issue.

David: Fellowship councillors should help on both counts but especially helping with the quality of bids before they get to the submission stage.

Bob: thank you and now over to Adam.


1535: Adam Lent, Director of Programme: there’s a lot going on but if I don’t mention it, doesn’t mean we’re not doing it. I’ll very quickly look through the three main areas of work:

Firstly, enterprise: we’re trying to get a major project off the ground around innovation in employability  – noone at the moment is looking at that range of innovation and how to learn from it. We’re looking at schemes going on around the country to see what we can learn. We’re looking at RSA Premiums (prizes for innovation) with Google. 

Michael Ambjorn: that last one actually came out of the RSAde group attending a hackathon so another example of how the FC has influence.

Adam: We’re looking at manufacturing and technology. As a design led project, we’re looking at closed loop (no waste) manufacturing – potentially turning the UK into a centre for no-waste manufacturing. We’ve also got relatively smallscale projects around useful investment. Finally, probably at the earliest stage of investment, is doing a lot more work alongside young entrepreneurs. This is about mobilising the RSA’s assets and networks to support a whole range of young entrepreneurs (under 29) – giving those people access to a whole range of wise older heads.

Re education, we now have three members in our family of schools (academies). We don’t want to grow too quickly. Probalby the best thing to come out of our family is that one of the outstanding schools is now helping another school which is struggling slightly. There is a new blog for Opening Minds.

Comment: Wales is very interested in using the Opening Minds curriculum.

Adam: Thanks that’s great. The Academies Commission is going to report by November – we want to report as quickly as possible – it will be looking at how the rapid expansion of academies across the UK can be managed. Finally in July we’ll be publishing a report on the so-called Middle Tier – with a lot of schools becoming autonomous (academies), there’s a big debate in govenment about how this shoudl be managed.

Community and public services: West Kent recovery capital. We’re looking at how you drive up public sector productivity at a time of austerity. We think you need to be much more strategic and thoughtful about how you apply cuts. Citizen Power Peterborough will be ending in July – the final report from that will be published in September. We want to develop an RSA understanding of what citizen engagement means. We’re also looking at how social networks can drive local enterprise (Networks and local enterprise).

Projects relaunch: interim paper has been approved by the board. We need to come up with a new name. Hoping to get a group of marketing and branding experts together to help me. Launch event in September.

Fellowship involvement: We;re develping a clear strategy and process about how to get fellows more involved in projects. A key factor is that project staff work incredibly hard to run the project, raise money etc, and need to communicate with fellows in that context. We’ve created a new post for someone in the networks team to implement this strategy. I’m convinced doing that properly is a full-time job. We’ve appointed Sam Thomas to that role.

Profile and influence: our work on education is clearly leading the way. Our report on police got lots of media coverage and broadcast. Shows we can do a lot with something small but well-timed and focused. It’s good: our early stage projects are getting a lot of interest from government and the media.

Comment: many thanks I thought that was very valuable. A lot of educational activity in the RSA seems to be focused on influencing policy. You’ve got to involve civil society more generally in the educational discourse and not simply respond to the policy-makers’ agenda.

Bob: And that’s another reason why we need to take these projects out to the regions.

Fellowship survey report

1600: Josef Lentsch: as you know 22% of fellowship responded to this year’s survey. The RSA is in a fairly good position – our members are relatively loyal, but things can and should be improved. This includes things like the Skillsbank and Fellowship directory. We need to look at how we can further tailor fellowship journeys according to your motivations. Some fellows want to engage. Some simply want to support. We need to look at ways of making the website more informative, for example. The regional data is quite sensible.

Comment: when’s this going to be made public?

Michael: we are holding the newsletter for this so very shortly. But the regional data will not be published – it will be given to the regional teams.

Meeting of Regional/National chairs

Keith: We had a very good turnout. As Irene says, Alan Bossley from the West said it wasn’t going to be a sit around and chat so they did this good way of working and we all had a really good time: what’s the role of the regional chair, how should we be etc. We had quite a wide-ranging discussion. We were all in danger of having a good time and agreeing with each other. Which is not like the RSA at all. There was a great feeling of unanimity that we were all moving forward together after a time of great wrangling. Sharing experiences in public was a very worthwhile experience.

Comment: It was a very safe place.

Irene: Is it possible that we could circulate the paper? (on the outcome of what the chairs feel they can contribute in their role in the new governance structure in the regions).

Comment: can I just ask who’s thinking of standing again?

[Around half the room – 20 people put their hands up]

Comment: thanks to Jemima for all her hard work in chairing the Digital Engagement working group.

<< blush >>

Michael: The international working group has set up a group of connectors to help fellows connect to each other in regions outside the UK. You can see who the connectors are here.

[Big thanks to Matthew Mezey for getting the connectors’ page up and running and also for the list of Fellowship resources ]

Comment: I’d like to thank Bob and Irene for all their hard work in chairing and co-chairing the council.

[resounding applause]

Bob: thank you. I think we have moved on quite significantly and I’m very pleased. I’d like to also thank Michael, Lou and the whole Fellowship team – amazing to see how hard they all work. And I thihk that’s a good point to call this meeting to a close.

Meeting closed.

Cherry-picking the best stuff

Spring has sprung…and it’s time to get blogging! If you’re an occasional reader of this blog (thank you), you may have noticed a sudden flurry of activity over the last few days. Yes indeed, after nearly a year of inactivity (apart from the odd RSA live blog), I’ve decided to renew my blogging vows.

Yes I DO promise to love, honour and cherish “Monkeys With Typewriters” – lavishing it with more frequent attention and keeping it enhanced, nipped and tucked in all the right places.

It’s been unusually warm and sunny here in London this week, so the perfect time to get down to some social reporting with The RSA, led by the awesome David Wilcox. So far I’ve reported from two events, experimenting with uploading video direct from the iPhone. There’ve been some hiccups along the way, but I’m loving the instantness of everything (point+shoot+blog+connect). Looking forward to doing a lot more of this, and to getting more RSA Fellows on board: the monkeys will out!

Lunch with the fab Jamie Coomber the other week reignited my love of Instagram, so I’ll be using that more, and pinning the results on Pinterest, to see if that ignites any new connections (while still loving Flickr, of course).

Along with RSA social reporting and a more visual style, there’ll be my usual monkey-with-typewriter musings on the impact of social technologies on the way we work: focusing on collaborative, grassrootsy, networked approaches. So yes, I’ll be cherry-picking – but this sector needs some optimism bias (there’s enough dirt-digging already out there).

Finally, I’ll be posting on stuff that ties in with the broader collaborative behaviours identified in Monkeys With Typewriters: co-creation, passion, learning, openness, listening and generosity. So topics will include anything from diversity (listening) through service design (co-creation) to social enterprise (generosity).

At least, that’s how I think it’s going to play out. If it starts raining, I may feel quite differently…

A tribute to my Ada Lovelace heroines @vivslf @commutiny and @charlottebritto

Today is Ada Lovelace Day and all over the world, people are honoring and remembering women in science, technology, engineering and maths.


The three who are very much ‘front of mind’ for me this week are (clockwise from top left) Vivs Long-Ferguson, Roxanne Persaud and Charlotte Britton.


Vivs, Roxanne and Charlotte have been instrumental in building and sustaining the wonderful entity that is the RSA Digital Engagement Working Group (#RSAde for short). RSAde was set up as a working sub-group of the RSA Fellowship Council on 15 December 2009 (minutes). Intially, all groups were jointly-led. I convened the group on behalf of Fellows, Vivs on behalf of RSA staff.


The group’s original title was “Fellowship – supporting, connecting, mapping, developing specialist networks, new events”. This was a large and unwieldy brief, and we soon began to focus on digital engagement as the key way to enable connectivity and collaboration between fellows.


As staff co-covenor, Vivs was intrinsic in driving RSAde forward. Her deep experience of the RSA combined with her passion for digital, social technologies and high emotional intelligence earned her the title of “RSAde Midwife”.


As a lifelong fellow, Roxanne has been Queen Agitator, questioning everything, challenging preconceptions and, on a more practical level, providing technical expertise and knowhow where it matters.


Charlotte has brought invaluable consultancy experience to the table. Her no-nonsense approach is backed by a decade in online/ digital marketing. She has an uncommon ability to combine third sector understanding with a business-savvy mindset.


Without the three of you, there wouldn’t be a vibrant #RSAde. Thanks for making it happen!



RSA Fellowship Council meeting liveblog

I’ll be blogging the eighth meeting of the RSA Fellowship Council here from 1.30pm today. Please keep refreshing the page for updates.

1330: Meeting kicks off with Bob Porrer (chair) welcoming new elected Fellowship Council members and giving apologies from those not here. Introduces Andrew Summers who’ll be talking about development of the RSA House.

1334: Andrew Summers: House Development Committee formed at start of this year. Four main objectives: how to improve the use of space. 2nd: to communicate better what the RSA does. 3rd: to make it much more interactive with rest of the country and rest of world. 4th: to improve revenue stream.

1337: We started with looking at the ground floor and Great Room. Bear in mind we’ve had three groups of people in mind as audience/ users: firstly fellows. Secondly visitors – they are core targets for what the RSA wants to do. Thirdly, hirers: people who are willing to hire the House. We have a huge advantages over other societies in that our building is funded by outside hire and not by member subscriptions. Hands over to Matthew Lloyd (architect).

1339: Matthew Lloyd: Since 1774, Great Room has changed in many ways [Show some great old pics – sorry haven’t got my iPhone to capture – will source later].

1340: The ground floor seems to have lost some of the original Adam architecture in many ways. A bit haphazard. We’ve been round the building and opened up floors to see what we can keep and what we can’t. Very unusual that 8 John Adam street was built for the RSA and is still under the use of its original client. We’re going to hunt down the original architecture and bring it back.
First thing to say in terms of proposal is that we’re not changing any of the external front of the building. We want to bring back the downlighting and make it feel more like an institution. We want to bring back the Great Stair as it use to be. We want to remove the tiered seating in the great room to get a flat floor. The brief has been to give the Great Room the possibility of hosting other types of function. We want to bring it back to the Adam level. Propose to bring back in ventilation via the roof. We feel that the Barry paintings because of the raised seating are not seen properly. With the original Adam level they’ll be more appreciated. The Benjamin Franklyn Room is on a raised level, carpeted. We want to drop level and put timber floor in.

There’s been a lot of conversation about how the RSA looks highly contemporary and at the same time the original Adam architecture very much there. We wish to change the cloakroom – there’s the whole culture of Brompton [fold-up] bikes which needs to be addressed. The key route down to the Gerrard Bar can be very much amplified. The room with the disabled ramp would become a more informal meeting room. The room at the end – the Tavern Room –  would have an interactive wall. The space adjoininig the Tavern Room would enable the room to be opened up. These rooms were originally the ground floor of 4 adjoining houses – nos 8, 6 and 4 John Adam Street, plus no 8 Adam Street. We want to respect those original houses. There’s a room full of chairs at the mo which would become another meeting room. To return to the Great Room, the speaker will be raised up, and we are considering more than one great screen, so although the audience sight lines won’t be so good, it will still be possible to see the speaker from all seats. Thank you very much.

13:54: Andrew Summers: £2.9m estimated cost – plans are out to tender at the moment. Refurb proposed to start in December. Will be done by June. In time for the Olympics – and the original Barry paintings contain Olympian athletes so very fitting. How do we get fellows to engage? How to we enable fellows to use the new rooms? Some of these will be made available on a regular basis for fellows – eg: Great Room once a month. Comments and questions?

Comment: have you consdired the noise made by air conditioning and have you contacted members of the Adam family who are in fact fellows to see if they have any records/ pictures you can refer to for original colours?

Matthew: it’s quite difficult in a Grade I listed building to install absolutely silent air conditioning. As to the colours, we have commissioned a colour-investigation specialist to strip down certain key walls to find those colours. I’m still not sure whether we should go for historic or modern approach. I don’t think we want to produce a musuem piece. 

Comment: the one art that seems to have been omitted is music. Can we use the Great Room for concerts?

Matthew: very good point. We are acousitically engineering the Great Room. 

Andrew: concerts here have been talked about for many many years.

Comment: why not retractable raised seating? I’m sure I’m not the only person who wants to see the speaker not a screen. If I’m not at the front, I might as well stay at home.

Matthew Taylor: the sight lines have been worked out so whereever you are in the room…

Andrew: this way gives us flexibility.
Comment: Could I urge the house develpment committee to consider the development of RSA hubs – local networks of hubs – where fellows feel there is a place out in the sticks they can go to? I feel that would fulfill the objectives of the central house being able to successfully network with a very widely dispersed fellowship. Feel it should be within your remit to consider these hubs.

Andrew: I think that may be a second phase

Matthew Taylor: a few years ago we closed down hubs because they proved to be very expensive, and not always close to everyone in the region. We now try to develop partnerships with venues in the regions. That’s a separate debate.

Comment: thank you for an inspiring presentation. I believe the RSA has a collection of artworks, can we re-hang some of these? Also incorporate with all the new technology?

Andrew: we like the communication in the house to be around projects and what fellows are doing. Creating all the screens in various rooms will provide a platform to do that. But it’s a good idea to think about painting re-hanging.

Matthew: We would like to see th paintings and talk about how to rehand them.

Comment: I’m not clear how you’ll restore these paintings and show them at their best?

Matthew: We;re not going to specifically light them becacuse they’re quite old.

Comment: I think it looks great and it’s really exciting. We need to think about how to launch all of this.

Comment: What are we going to do about the Gerrard Bar? It’s very cramped…

Someone (house manager?): You’re right. It’s very small and very overcrowded. Some weeks we’re up to 5 events a week and they’re all fully booked so that’s 1000 people a week. We’re looking at some ‘pop-up’ solutions so that demand can be reached when it’s very high.

Comment: Taking into account what the modern space looks like, how the world has changed so much in past ten years, will reflect the spaces that will come on stream in the next ten years. It was on my watch we got rid of all the oil and watercolours in this room. Can I just warn you about getting old paintings in a room that is not suited to old paintings.

Andrew: very much in line with my thinking, thank you.

Comment: Have you looked at impact assessment. What struck me in the lobby was that there was a receptionist standing up – have you considered impact on staff? And wheelchair users will be looked down on. 

House manager: the desk on Durham Street will be the main reception. As in many nice hotels these days there are people to meet and greet you, and walk with you if necessary.

Matthew Taylor: the overall plan improves disabled access around the building.

Comment: Who did the access audit?

Matthew: We haven’t done an access audit.

Comment: I’m dismayed. There are many organisations that look at access that have connections with Fellows and this is somethign that shoudl be looked at.

Andrew: Sorry that’s a very unfair comment. 

Another commenter: I agree – this should be looked at. Disabled means more than just people in wheelchairs.

Matthew: We have British Heritage and Westminster breathing down our necks, their angle is the architecture. Very difficult to include veryone’s views but i will talk to our client about this.

Matthew Taylor: Let’s consider how we’d decide bids by fellows for monthly use of the Great Room – surely this is a great idea?

[General agreement]

Bob (Chair): Thank you. We haven’t got time to go through this right now but if you’ve any ideas as to how bids might be considered, please send them to Matthew.

14:20: Bob: now moving onto Matters Arising and the situation in Wales.

Comment: when are we going to have a meeting to address this? 

14:22: Michael Ambjorn: There’s been a range of meetings in the past year and quite a few have had the title ‘the future of Wales’ in them. And I believe you have been a speaker at one of them.

14:24: Governance: is everyone happy to discuss this after the AGM in October?
General agreement (or no loud disagreement anyway)!

1425: Josef Lentsch: We did pilot fellowship survey in March and would like now to consider doing an annual fellowship survey. As it’s a huge sample we’d expect response rate to be quite high. Survey in March had a 27% response rate. Quite high.

Comment: Josef just to point out we did a regional survey in the north west recently and can send you the results.

Josef: Yes please. We would like to compare on a yearly basis how we’re making progress.

Bob: If anyone has done surveys, please share what’s come out of them. Now onto academies and whether we cna arrange a visit.

Matthew: We are about to open a third academy just half a mile from here. 

Bob: Yes maybe that shoud be the one we visit.

1428: Bob: now onto website development.

Josef: A brief update on progress on the website. It’s been a year since we started. Launched in June 2011. We jumpted from 40,000 page views a month in 2009 to average 120,000 in May 2010. That was mainly down to RSA Animate. This also very prominent on the new website. Since website relaunch we now get 5 x as many unique visitors. At least one person per month was downloading and sending in an application form. Now it’s around 30. The new application form is clearer and more approachable – we’ve embedded the fellowship charter into it. [shows wordle graphic of most popular words in 15 recent fellows applications, key words are work, social, education, support and community].

Comment: we don’t know what individual fellows are interested in. Is there any mileage in the survey asking existing fellows what they are interested in?

Irene: Can we pick this up later down the agenda when we cover engagement?

Comment: Arts is a tiny word in the corner but I can’t see manufacturing or commerce at all [in the wordle].

Josef: next steps: by end of 2011 we hope to submit to trustees our choice for a prefferred platform supplier. Launch the platform in Q3 2012.

Comment: this website has been used to virtually eliminate regions. The regions are part of the structure of this society. Should not be appearing 9 clicks down on the website. Teh committee is 2 years out of date and the programme is also out of date. Many regions suffer from the same problems. Why are committee details not up to date? This society is based on a royal charter which gets no mention in the first 8 pages of the website.

Josef: I think the evidence quite clearly shows that we have not buried the regions. 

Bob: There is still an issue about the updating of regional pages. We still need to resolve this.

Comment: I know this is a work in progress but please remember the nations are involved also.

Comment: how many people are actually visiting the regional pages and how many are actually fellows?

Josef: With the current set up we can’t identify who’s a fellow and who’s not.

Comment: congratulations on the website revamp – good job. Do we know how many people come
from the youtube channel?

Comment: Can you update the map/ calendar facility?

Michael: A lot of people react to the map more intuitively. It’s nice to see you putting so much energy into this Kevin. We’ve put out a paper to the regional chairs and we’ll be revisiting that.
Comment: fellowship directory?

Josef: now you have to opt out rather than opt in; we should see improvement.

Me [your faithful blogger]: Can we just have an update on how people use the Nings. Is anyone finding them useful and if you’re not using them, why not?

Comment: we use our Ning a lot in Yorkshire. It woudl be good if each regional Ning could be linked up with the other regional Nings.

Comment: There’s not enough people using it [in our region].

Comment: I alwasys forget the Ning exists – would be good to get an [email] reminder

Comment: Ning was sold this morning for $150m so things may change – things could go very much the right way for an organisation like us, or they could go the other way. 
14:50: Irene: report back from ‘engaging the fellow’ brainstorm this morning: key question is what are we meant to be doing on the fellowship council: some felt we were meant to be represneting our regions, some of us didn’t. Most of us felt we weren’t representing our local region and we needed to do somehting to change that. Maybe with new governance that will become easier. But there has to be a way in which fellowship council have a role in the region. 

Comment: I was like a stuck record on the GAG: If the fellowship council doesn’t represent the regions, what’s the point of it?

Irene: these are just preliminary thoughts. We have to work together in the regions to decide what individual roles we all have. I’m a regional chair and I’m also a fellowship council member so I wear two hats – but it doesn’t always work like that.

Matthew: if the GAG resolution passes at the AGM, we will start to make genuine comparisons between regions and nations that we at the moment can’t. We’ll be able to know how they are contributing to the RSA’s national objectives. We’ll have richer data. We want every fellow whereever they are to have a richer offer. 

Comment: that sounds like it will be useful…

Matthew: It’ll be a relationship of two-way challenge and support.
Irene: I think we all have specific roles within our regions. We need to think about, what are we going to do to engage the individual fellow? I went to a meeting in Brighton and Hove and they said to me: ‘well who are you?”. That doesn’t matter. How can we as FC representatives have a role in our region? We need to have choices.

Comment: the London committe just did a survey and a lot of the responses were ‘what London committee?’

Irene: let’s give people a lot of channels, a lot of communications choices to choose from. Are we here to act as MPs? Most of us probably think not! But should we be having surgeries? Workshops? Panels? Whatever…please email your views to me. The next meeting is going to be just before the AGM and look at how. We need to look at how we engage locally to enable the individual fellow to have a voice.

1500: Comment: A lot of fellows are on a career path. They could offer a valuable resource – not sure if skills bank is the right way to realise that. We need to develop a more sophisticated way of tracking the activities of fellows. 

Irene: I believe that’s the fellowship directory…Michael?

Michael: We use the skills bank for matching. Catalyst bids are also a useful source of information. There’s also the more informal phone call that can be made by a member of staff to a fellow who’s help is needed.

Comment: engagement is better face to face. What about Skype contact details? 

Me: if you email me your Skype details I’ll send you the list I have.

Michael: We haven’t asked for Skype details but we can come back to that. During the coffee break take a look at the mock-up I’ve done with contacts etc for fellowship council members for the website.

Irene: thanks. Please email me with any comments. Next meeting at 4pm before next AGM in October.

1510: coffee break

1520: Adam Lent: update on RSA Projects:we’ve just opened our third Academy. Peterborough Project going well. We’re learning from lessons there. Drug recovery project is pretty smallscale but has rapidly become very influential. Design is historically a very important area for the RSA – how people who’ve suffered from spinal cord injuries can redesign their environment to live fuller lives [mentions some more projects: here’s a full list of current projects]. There is a lot we can learn from private sector on how to engage with others – wider fellowship – on our projects. We’ve restarted the working group on projects and will report back next meeting.

Comment: can I underscore the importance of getting what you’re doing out into the world at large. 

Adam: it’s an extremely challenging media environment. You can’t just produce a good report and expect the press to respond to that. It’s not just about good PR.

Comment: How does a project become a project – is there a link to Catalyst?

Adam: There are many different elements in getting a project off the ground…[sorry he explains but I missed most of this]

Comment: There has to be a way of communicating projects up front and asking for fellows involvement.

Matthew: Just as an example of how fellows invovelment doens’t always help, I remember a while ago we were trying to launch a project in a region – our first meeting was dominated by a campaign to stop the local council doing something. It turned out the council was lead by a a fellow and the campaign was led by a fellow so the idea of our project for civic engagement died a death.

Comment: I happen to have been one of those fellows who objected to the involvement of the RSA in the academies – I work with the academies now. It’s worthwhile binging some of the non adademy schools in the opening minds curriculum.

Bob: Thank you Adam. MOving onto report back from David Archer.

David: this is the report back from the trustee board looking at fellowship recruitment and retention. Trustees wanted reassurance that the new strategy of fellows recruiting other fellows (as opposed to mailshots) is working. 

Comment: If we’re all goign out and bringing our friends into the organisation, how will balance be addressed?

Josef: Well, since Matthew has been CEO we’ve had many more women being recruited [this statement causes quite a few giggles] but we’ve also had an issue of more women leaving [more uproarious laughter].

Matthew: We are looking at ways to recruit members from the Pakistani diaspora in UK.

Comment: We need to speak to lapsed fellows and find out why they left.

Josef: We do have an exit questionnaire, but this only works for fellows who’ve left recently. We’ve recruited a retention specialist – Samanthat Fletcher – sitting beside me.
Matthew: two biggest reasons are finance and people saying they don’t have time to be active fellows.

1548: Matthew: when I tell people how great the RSA is, I wish they weren’t surprised. I wish everyone was aware of what we do. We want to use the huge event next July (re-launching the RSA) to let people know exactly what it is we do. The fact people will be able to watch the lectures around the country and interact will be a help.

1550: Bob: Thank you, and now Zena with report back from Trustee board.

[Zena has asked me not to liveblog the first item as it has staff have yet to be told – update 22/9/11: Please note that the first issue Zena reported back on was a minor matter internal to the House – it was not of major significance outside and certainly not of importance to the wider Fellowship – I realise the above sentence as written during my liveblog understandably aroused intense curiousity among readers – apologies – please do not contact RSA staff asking for details as you have to trust me on this one – it was really not a major thing. Please note if you do continue to press staff for details on this minor matter, one of two things will happen: either I will not be permitted to say if something in a meeting is not live-bloggable, which for context and integrity would be a real shame, or I will be prevented from liveblogging altogher, which would be altogether more disturbing. I promise to choose my wording more carefully in future].

Zena: the other relevant item is that the charitable company, RSA Academies, has now been set up and a part-time executive director is being recruited.

1552: Michael Ambjorn shows new 3 min video promoting Catalyst Fund. [Video will shortly be up on the RSA website].

1557:Matthew: we launched Catalyst 18 months ago and had no idea how successful it would be. The Fellowship Council has been really important from the onset in supporting Catalyst. 

1558: It’s not just the money, it’s that applying to Catalyst puts you in touch with other fellows who can help you.

1600: Comment: can we have more information about Catalyst projects that have succeeded.

Gerrard (Fellowship Council working group on Catalyst): those stories will be up on the website

Rosie: (FC working group on Catalyst): We want to be careful about designing the life out of Catalyst – we want it to be live and relevant.

1602: Gerrard (International Working Group): We’re working with new International/ Online manager Matthew Mezey and will have something to report for next FC meeting

1604: Jonathan (Education group report back: we have 10 fellows regularly attending meetings. We’re tyring to set up some interactions across the country to identify key issues.

Rosie (Youth working group):1 November 4-6pm: there’ll be a debate here about 21st century youth work. We’ve written a publication called Hunch which will be launched in November. Please get in touch if you want to help with facilitation.

Bob: After two years it might be a good point to review structure + function of working groups – if anyone has any comments, issues or ideas please email me or Irene.
Comment: Is there a communications working group? There seem to be a lot of issues around communications…

Me: yes, please come and chat afterwards!

1609: Bob: We’d like to thank the outgoing COO for all his hard work and welcome Carol Jackson who started this week.

Comment: this year is the 50th anniversary of the first regional meeting of the RSA – it was in Birmingham.

Comment: This is my first meeting and I couldn’t hear very much. Is there any chance the aircon could be turned off next time?

1611: Bob: We’ll look into that for next time. Thank you everyone – that’s the end of today’s meeting.
See you all at the AGM!

Photo credit: Herry Lawford