Stories

ColaLife
Mark III AidPod in Crate with white backgroundColaLife is a current Unlikely Alliances initiative. In 1988, Simon Berry was working on the British Aid Programme in NE Zambia, conscious that while he could buy a bottle of Coke anywhere, one in every five children under the age of five died in these areas through simple causes such as dehydration through diarrhoea. So he had the idea that Coca-Cola’s distribution muscle could be used to distribute oral rehydration salts in developing countries. At that time, with only a telex machine available, he struggled to get any attention for his idea. He revived the idea using social media in 2008 and is now talking to Coca-Cola, at the global level, about the implementation of an independently evaluated trial of the ColaLife concept.

Two colleagues are currently working with Simon to research and put together the unlikely alliance of partners that will be required to run an independently evaluated trial of the Colalife concept in a location in Africa to be announced shortly.

Shaping Our Future
Taskforce CoverShaping Our Future – also known as ‘The joint ministerial and third sector Task Force on climate change, the environment and sustainable development’ – was published in March 2010.

It was the culmination of a year’s work involving four UK government departments and 14 representatives from the UK’s non-profit sector. The report outlined the way the UK Government and NGO sector should work together in the face of the challenges presented by climate change, the environment and sustainable development.

The report was a challenge to bring together with all parties on board as it contained explicit commitments to actions from all the parties involved.

Given the time of its publication a key objective is that the report and the commitments within it would survive a possible change of government. This objective was achieved and Shaping Our Future will be taken on by the UK’s Coalition Government. The full report can be downloaded here (PDF 7MB).

Simon Berry managed the Joint Ministerial and Third Sector Task Force while on secondment to Defra as Head of Defra’s Third Sector Team (now Civil Society Team).

12 months into Simon’s leadership of Defra’s Third Sector Team, the Team won the Compact Award for Excellence At National Level.

The Defra Third Sector Blog (now Civil Society Blog)

Defra Civil Society Blog In early 2009, while on secondment to the UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), Simon Berry was successful in making the case that blogging by Civil Servants should be a key part of their communications strategy especially where stakeholder engagement was a key objective. He also made the case for blog posts to be written and published by officers themselves without the normal lengthy approvement process.

Defra’s Third Sector Blog was set up initially as a pilot and was implemented from the outset so that it was integrated into the day to day work of the team in a way that did not increase workloads but improved the effectiveness and efficiency of the necessary reporting of the team’s work.

Based on this experience Simon worked with Defra’s communications team and contributed to the revision of Defra’s communication strategy suggesting a ‘multi-channel’ approach to communications in the future. The homepage of the Defra website now features YouTube video and links to Defra’s Twitter and Flickr channels.

International partnership brokerage

Coca-Cola logo AED LogoIn 2008, Coca-Cola were looking at ways to use their expertise, in support of the Business Call to Action, particularly to help health supply chains in the developing world. Salvatore Gabola, then Head of Stakeholder Relations at The Coca-Cola Company, asked Simon Berry to help broker a partnership with an international Non-Government Organisation (NGO). Coca-Cola have the best distribution network in the world, but they recognised that they needed to work with other organisations: ‘Distribution of medicines is not our business, not our area of expertise.’

Using the power of online networking and the convening power of the internet, Simon approached a range of suitable partners. The open-networking approach finally paid off: Magdalena Serpa, introduced Simon to her colleague, Peter Johnson, a member of the Senior Management Group for The Academy for Educational Development (AED) in the USA.

Liaison with relevant AED experts in Washington and New York led to the first telephone conference call between AED and Euan Wilmshurst and Adrian Ristow of Coca-Cola. Six months later, in July 2009, after months of partnership development, AED started work on the ground in Tanzania with Coca-Cola and local bottler SABCO in a ‘Learning Laboratory’, an exploratory phase to understand issues on the ground and assess the viability of harnessing Coca-Cola’s distribution expertise. The ‘Learning Laboratory’ will form the basis of the next phase of Coca-Cola’s work in Tanzania to announced at the end of August 2010.

Open Innovation Exchange

Deliverying the Open Innovation Exchange BidIn 2007 Simon Berry and Jane Berry led the core team behind the Open Innovation Exchange. The Open Innovation Exchange initiative was the first attempt to develop a bid, in response to a competitive government tender, using open innovation principles. This process produced a traditional-looking bid document using a very different process. 22 people contributed to the final bid with a further 13 observers.

Simon Berry and collaborators were nominated and reached the national finals of the New Statesman New Media Awards 2008 for their role in this initiative.

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