What is it, and why is it important for the entire process of working with welfare technology?
In the context of CONNECT and working with welfare technology a strategy is the operationalization of you vision. This means that you strategy should be the method or the plan for how you are going to achieve your vision – a practical plan on realizing your goals and ambitions.
Your strategy is an important tool which allocates your resources in your endeavor to fulfill the vision.
Some strategies will include a communication plan. In the context of CONNECT we have separated this into a separate step (see step 3), to underline the importance of a well thought through comprehensive communication plan.
The strategy will have a direct influence on all the subsequent steps in the process of working with welfare technology, so please make sure your strategy can facilitate them all.
- Please consider the big picture. All Nordic countries have national strategies that will influence the welfare technology area. Some countries even have very specific strategies aimed directly at welfare technology in the municipalities, including specific obligatory goals. So, make sure you research the existing national strategies (national strategies directly on welfare technology can be found in the examples section in this document), so that your own strategy compliments these. For more information about national strategies in your country please consult your national association of local and regional governments.
- When writing your strategy consider that a municipality is a big and complex organization and that welfare technology will be relevant across departments and professions – from children to elderly, from disability to social issues. Make sure your strategy is either relevant across these organizational divides or in other ways consider this potential complication.
- Consider whether a cooperation with likeminded municipalities or regions would be beneficial. A common strategy can be an effective way of overcoming a lack of resources and or experience.
- If you feel uncertain about how to create and write a strategy, there are several consultants specializing in this exact area which could be helpful.
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Guidelines based on experience
Operationalize your strategy by creating obtainable subsidiary goals – do not be afraid to have several subsidiary goals for each part of your strategy.
- Example: Strategy statement: XX want welfare technology to ensure that XX offers attractive jobs and a good work environment. Subsidiary goals: XX will offer yearly training to employees to optimize their technical competences. Subsidiary goal: XX works on continuously identifying technology to replace or ease repetitive and tedious tasks.
A strategy should not micro manage your efforts within welfare technology. It is beneficial to use action plans (from common template) for each project to ensure a common goal and common effort. Action plans cannot replace a strategy, but act as good supplements.
It is beneficial to add an element of time to ensure momentum within the area. It can either be in the form of a deadline on certain goals (such as for instance a three year plan) but it can also be a clause suggesting the entire strategy is revised / evaluated yearly.
Consider how your strategy can help integrate the process of working within welfare technology throughout your organization – across departments and professions. (As examples remember not to forget the procurement department, the legal department, the IT department or Finance and administration).
Consider how welfare technology can support and even enhance existing organization-wide initiatives.
- Example: Important municipal initiatives such as "implementation of rehabilitation" or "promotion of trade and industry development" are easily supported and even enhanced through a welfare technology strategy.
Values and ethics are difficult to operationalize, but are important for both internal and external communication.
- Example: When formulating the ethical foundation and basic values regarding welfare technology for XX it is absolutely necessary to involve all stake holders, especially those that will use and benefit from the new technology.
Consider how your strategy can support and even promote a successful implementation process (bearing in mind that a successful implementation process can involve complex issues such as ownership, training, organization, support etc).
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What has having a strategy meant to the CONNECT participants?
In Lister having a strategy has eased the tasks of working with welfare technology. Our strategy has shaped the framework which we work within. We know have a common of not only understanding of the means and instruments available, but also the limitations. The strategy provides us with a common practical directionality in our work.
Västerås has so far lacked a dedicated Strategy for welfare technology. When planning and implementing different activities, such as pilot projects and scaling-up implementation, we have sought for support and guidance in the overall goals of the political committee for the elderly and that has been of some help to tailor and prioritize the efforts. It has also been a guidance on what goals to achieve with welfare technology. As with Vision we do recommend to set aside the necessary time and resources to elaborate such a policy document – it will pay off later.
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Templates for strategies vary greatly, and you may even have one for your own particular organization. We recommend you browse through the strategy examples listed below, to see examples from experienced Nordic organizations.
The Norwegian Association of local and regional governments has a tool on their homepage which can be used as inspiration when creating a strategy for welfare technology. For more information see Samveis.no. Please note that this is not a strategy template, but it contains very useful information about different aspects of working with welfare technology.
Innovation design can be helpful
Furthermore, tools intended for designing or completing innovation processes may also be very helpful in writing a strategy specifically for welfare technology. There are several available online, but our Norwegian partners have recommended the following two:
N3: (New, Useful and Utilized)
It is a digital tool for those who wish to know how to adopt innovation methodology.
N3 consists of three parts:
- The first is the short film "Let go - party of choice" that provides a concise presentation of why KS work with innovation.
- The second is a training component. This includes an introduction to what innovation is. It also introduces the five pillars that the N3 tool is built around and finally, it introduces a single process tool, called BLT.
- The last module is for those who have a specific idea or project. In step 3, your project will be challenged through a series of specific questions. Upon completing the module, you can download a summary and use it to assess the strengths and weaknesses of your idea or project.
More information about N3
SLIK: (Systematic management of municipal innovation)
It is a digital tool designed to ease and support innovation in municipalities. The product is primarily educational and shaped in the form of a game. The game will gradually take the user though layer after layer increasing the user´s competences and understanding of what municipal innovation is and how it can be utilized.
More information about SLIK
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Examples of strategies from the CONNECT participants including national strategies
National strategies/programs for welfare technology:
Below you will find links to a select few of the strategies from the participating municipalities. Please feel free to contact the municipalities directly for more detailed information.
Has a strategy for welfare technology, along with other guidance documents. These can be found here. For the actual strategy document please contact Odense municipality directly (please use the contact list).
The municipal health cooperation between the six municipalities in the Norwegian Lister Region has uploaded their strategy on their webpage, it can be found here.
The Eksote cooperation in the region of South Karelia has also formalized a written strategy which can be found on their webpage.
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