Reflections from the Catalyst Definition Programme

As we come to the end of the programme, We Are Open has spent a little time thinking about what the last ten weeks has meant for us as digital partners. As ever, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind, helping and encouraging organisations to get so much done in such a short space of time!

‘Two Stars and a Wish’ CC BY-ND Bryan Mathers

As part of the reflection process, we asked our charity cohort what their ‘Two Stars and a Wish’ would be of the overall programme:


Reflections from the Catalyst Definition Programme

As we come to the end of the programme, We Are Open has spent a little time thinking about what the last ten weeks has meant for us as digital partners. As ever, it’s been a bit of a whirlwind, helping and encouraging organisations to get so much done in such a short space of time!

Two yellow stars and an Aladdin-style lamp with smoke / a genie coming out of it
Two yellow stars and an Aladdin-style lamp with smoke / a genie coming out of it
‘Two Stars and a Wish’ CC BY-ND Bryan Mathers

As part of the reflection process, we asked our charity cohort what their ‘Two Stars and a Wish’ would be of the overall programme:


Mapping landscapes for longterm, strategic change

We’re entering Week 7 of the Definition programme, and our cohort is beginning to put prototypes, concepts and ideas in front of their users.

In our cohort, we’ve been using the metaphor of a map. A definition phase of any project is about mapping the contextual landscape of the project and the organisation running it. As each charity moves forward in their digital transformation initiatives, the landscape they’ve mapped will become invaluable. We have been thinking up front about:


Mapping landscapes for longterm, strategic change

We’re entering Week 7 of the Definition programme, and our cohort is beginning to put prototypes, concepts and ideas in front of their users.

In our cohort, we’ve been using the metaphor of a map. A definition phase of any project is about mapping the contextual landscape of the project and the organisation running it. As each charity moves forward in their digital transformation initiatives, the landscape they’ve mapped will become invaluable. We have been thinking up front about:


In the Catalyst Definition Programme, we’re going to be helping charities use some of our favorite tools and methods to try and define their digital projects more succinctly. We intend to create clear plans of action, so that each charity in our cohort can take steps forward in their digital transformation projects.

We’ve written before about using Architectures of Participation (AoP) in open source projects. We find it a useful approach to scaffolding engagement, so how can we apply this useful framework to internal digital projects?

It’s actually pretty simple. We just need to contextualize the 8 points of the…


Weeknote Feb 15–19

Here’s another weeknote focussed on the Catalyst Definition Programme! I’m focusing on this specifically to help model the behavior of writing weeknotes for my cohort. Also, I’m spending a lot of time on this programme, so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Data is Biased

On Monday I geared up for our official Kickoff call, and sent everyone a reminder. This included the ask that each charity fill out an initial questionnaire to help us further understand what assets charities are coming to the programme with.

some of our readiness questionnaire results

At first, I was a bit surprised by the wide range of answers. To be honest, we didn’t bother thinking about how…


Weeknote Feb 08–11

I spent every day this week coordinating, scheduling, interviewing, and designing the programme for the Catalyst Definition Programme We Are Open Co-op is running for a cohort of 10 charities.

Talking to everyone

In order to eliminate some of the ambiguity around what our cohort needs in this programme, I set up one to one interviews with each charity. I’ve been running these meetings over the past two weeks. My agenda was mostly about getting to know each charity, listening to their expectations and doing a digital transformation readiness benchmarking exercise.

cc-by-nc Bryan Mathers

What I’ve learned is that we a wide range of services, target…


Last year, We Are Open Co-op worked directly with 10 charities funded through the Catalyst Discovery program. We’re pleased to announce that we have been accepted to guide another cohort of charities in the Catalyst Definition Programme!

Part of the reason we’re keen to continue this kind of work is because the Catalyst and The National Lottery Community Fund COVID-19 Digital Response fund is run on open principles.

Read a case study from one of the charities in our last cohort
• See this post on how to make a discovery process more participatory

We are eager to support…


We live in a society of “othering”, a time in which it’s easy to look at “them” and see people as fundamentally flawed. The words “morally bankrupt” seems to describe a massive swath of the people in the public eye. Part of my mental labour as of late has been about squaring the circle between believing in truth and accepting that perspective influences truth. That and its relationship to this thing called “compassion”.

Photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash

Moral Foundations

There’s a book I haven’t read called The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. Its author, Jonathan Haidt is one of the…


illustration cc-by-nd Bryan Mathers

At the beginning of 2020, We Are Open Co-op came together for an in-person (weren’t those the days!?) meetup and decided that 2020 would be the Year of the Co-op. We got ready for the year by cleaning up our tooling, recommitting ourselves to our collective endeavour, and talking about our processes. We cleaned up our tooling and recommitted ourselves to our collective endeavor. Talked about plans, the future, our processes.

As luck would have it, 2020 was both the Year of the Co-op and the year of Covid. The social-political landscape influenced our year in a way we couldn’t…

Laura Hilliger

Writer. Maker. Techie. Power tool user. Founding member @WeAreOpen, Open Ambassador for Opensource.com, work @greenpeace alum @mozilla http://laurahilliger.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store