Dragons' Den

This approach is modelled on the popular BBC TV programme. The public members, or “dragons”, receive pitches from the professionals and choose which projects they would agree to support or reject for financial support. This can put the public members in the driving seat in a light-hearted format that allows a choice to be made between competing options. It could also be used as one source of feedback that could be used to inform decision making on competing proposals. There are a variety of ways of running it, with different groups being the ‘dragons’.

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How to do it

  • Identify adequate funds or resources to deliver the exercise.
  • Identify and prioritise the issues you wish to deal with in this manner. This does not need to be about giving the final say to communities but may be one element of seeking feedback and public opinion on an issue. It would be prudent to test this approach on an issue where the options for debate are relevant and there is a choice that can be delegated to the community without risk.
  • Make a choice about the formats; you can have:
    • public dragons holding the resources, with several services pitching trying to satisfy one need
    • public dragons holding the resources, with several services pitching, each trying to satisfy a different need
    • professionals holding the resources, with several community groups or individuals each pitching their need or problem for support, or
    • professionals holding the resources, with several community groups or individuals each pitching their service for support.
  • Those that place the resources with the public dragons are likely to be easier to run.
  • Publicise the process and ask for participation
  • Provide support for the participants
  • Prepare the pitchers, so that they can give good presentations and answer questions
  • Prepare the dragons so that they can ask good questions and make reasoned choices
  • Book and prepare the venue

Pros

  • Fun, exciting and empowering and may attract different participants
  • Increases the public voice in local decision making
  • It provides an opportunity to deepen citizenship and democracy
  • Increases legitimacy by increasing dialogue, enabling better communication

Cons

  • Could develop into a confrontation, needs careful setting of expectations and facilitation
  • A risk that special interest groups could hijack the process
  • If suggested by health professionals it can be seen as ‘top-down' and imposed
  • Needs strong commitment from all areas of the organisation
  • Needs to be supported by capacity building and time
  • Need to be clear about outcomes as it can raise expectations that cannot be met

Sources and Further Information

  • "Public chooses boxing club for NHS cash in Dragons' Den event" - Link opens in a new windowGP Online