Collaborate has evolved from the Public Management Foundation, which – during the late 1990s and early 2000s – produced new ideas and directions for public services. Among its other research studies, PMF was well-known for its surveys on the value of public services, which gave voice of local service users to the national debate about public service performance.
In 1998, PMF gathered citizens for two days of debate and deliberation on the value of public services, exploring the interactions of health, learning and community safety on their lives. The resulting report, Making the Connections, gained the attention of Prime Minister Tony Blair, who applauded the focus on citizens’ voice and contributed its Foreword. Later, Joined-Up Management presented the results of lengthy debate between community advocates, policymakers, ministers and public managers on how best to work across silos of public services and produce improved social and economic outcomes. And in 2002 and 2003, with support from the Gulbenkian Foundation, PMF first advanced the idea of the Public Interest Company as a new model for delivering services to the public – a model that was subsequently put into legal form as the community interest company.
The two decades in which PMF was active were the days of “new public management”. We have moved on to understand that it is not only public sector agencies that have to be included in shaping community well being. Collaboration is required between government, private business, charitable organisations and civil society more broadly if true and sustained progress is to be made. But new ideas are still needed. And so, like our conception of public services, PMF has evolved into Collaborate Foundation to reflect our richer understanding of how best to improve social outcomes.