Dr. Joanne Tippett launched Ketso as a social enterprise emanating from her research into community planning and ecological design at the University of Manchester. Ketso is a colourful, hands-on toolkit for creative engagement. This re-useable toolkit enables people with differing levels of confidence and ability to engage with each other and share ideas.
Dr. Tippett’s development of Ketso was driven by one clear aim: to enable all voices to be heard in a stimulating and creative dialogue.
Ketso was initially developed in Lesotho, Southern Africa, where she found that women didn’t tend to speak in mixed gender groups, and she needed a way to make sure all views were on the table for discussion. Ketso was refined and further tested during Dr Tippett’s Ph.D. and postdoctoral research, working with community members to develop plans for the future of their neighbourhoods and landscapes.
At Moston Vale in Manchester, Dr. Tippett used Ketso to help the local community develop a landscape plan. This former landfill site was subsequently transformed into a country park with £1.7 million funding. The hands-on approach used with stakeholders was widely regarded as a major contributing factor to this success, as expressed in interviews with project officers, community members and regional stakeholders (Tippett, Handley, Ravetz. 2007. “Meeting the Challenges of Sustainable development—A Conceptual Appraisal of a New Methodology for Participatory Ecological Planning.” Progress in Planning 67 (1): 1–98).
The launch of Ketso as a spin-off in 2009 has enabled more sectors to benefit from this innovative approach, including regeneration, enterprise development, health and wellbeing, social inclusion, skills training, teaching and community involvement.
Ketso is a powerful tool for social inclusion and its use engenders greater engagement. The range of impact is indicated by Ketso’s use in the UK, Peru, Bangladesh, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Southern Africa, Palestine, Jordan, Russia, Australia, USA, the Netherlands, Finland, Malta, Germany and Portugal. There are over 370 kits in use. Over 195 customers (including high-profile organisations such as Merseycare NHS, Portsmouth County Council, United Utilities and Groundwork) have purchased or rented kits.
A number of methods are used to measure Ketso’s impact. Participants are asked to give feed back either with Ketso or in questionnaires. For example, in a successful Community Planning conference in Renfrewshire in Scotland Ketso was used to engage with over 400 people to discuss how to improve the local area. Over 2000 ideas were generated. 97% of participants agreed that Ketso workshops “allowed participants to work together, share ideas and be creative.”
Qualitative feedback about Ketso was very positive:
“I found the Ketso workshop format fun and enjoyable and much more comfortable to share my ideas.”
“Ketso gave more opportunity to air people’s views.”
(See supporting document).
Impact measures include counting attendance at Ketso workshops (2656 participants have attended workshops run by the Ketso team), and, importantly, the number of creative ideas generated. For example, at a multli—stakeholder workshop looking at a ‘sustainable port’ in Portsmouth, 30 participants generated 476 ideas in a three-hour workshop and in a workshop looking at a ‘Healthy London’, 23 people generated 429 ideas.
Impact is measured based upon what the people using Ketso have been able to achieve following a workshop. The Glasgow Refugee, Asylum and Migration Network – GRAMNet, (featured in RCUK publication: Big Ideas for the Future) is using Ketso extensively in research and engagement across Scotland. An example is using Ketso to structure dialogues around ethics in research with vulnerable communities. Through GRAMNet EU TEMPUS project (£1 million) for outreach and education, Ketso is now being used in the Palestine.
Nine training videos have been developed to make the thinking behind Ketso more widely available:
Several external organisations have made videos about Ketso, including the ESRC (Celebrating the Social Sciences), Manchester Beacon for Public Engagement and Vitae. Taken together, these videos have been downloaded over 3600 times. The interest and support of these organisations is again indicative of the value and impact that Ketso has generated.
Further case study examples can be found at http://www.ketso.com/examples-case-studies and http://www.communityplanning.net/methods/ketso_kit.php
Each component of the physical toolkit embodies a key principle of community engagement and/or creative thinking, which was tested and developed during Dr Tippett’s research.
The research involved iterative cycling between theoretical insights, in particular from systems thinking, and testing these insights in practice, working in collaboration with a wide range of partners at multiple levels of scale. This active interface between theory and scholarly development through practice contributed both to the research originality and its impact.
An example of such an insight is value of metaphors for encouraging different kinds of thinking in the creative process (drawing together both de Bono’s work on creative thinking and insights about the value of asset based planning in community development). A further example is the use of moveable pieces in a hands-on process, to enable participants to build a shared picture of the group’s thinking. Ketso represents a physical manifestation of ideas to emerge from the original research.
A core component of Ketso’s strategy is to develop open source materials to support practitioners in the use of the toolkit and in engagement in general. A growing library of sample workshop plans can be downloaded and adapted:
A widening circle of practitioners are contributing their own workshop plans and insights into this open resource.
Dr. Tippett has proactively shared her experiences in numerous training courses and talks through national and international networks, including the Beacons For Public Engagement. This has enabled her to share her experiences with other researchers and help develop their skills to take a more public facing approach.
Ketso is an environmentally aware social enterprise that seeks to provide job opportunities for disadvantaged people in the supply chain. It is a company with a social mission, ‘to transform communication, collaboration and leaning worldwide’. The re-usable kits are rented and sold, and the profit will provide on-going support for the open-source development of new ideas, training tools and information to support others in effective and creative engagement.