Published on January 24, 2014

Hello from Involve’s new deputy director

By Amy Pollard

Dr Amy Pollard is Deputy Director at Involve. She has over 10 years experience working on accountability, policy and power, and a passion for using effective public engagement to drive positive change.

A new year always brings new challenges, and I’m delighted to be starting 2014 with a big one of my own:  taking up the reins from Edward Andersson as Deputy Director of Involve.

During my job hunt I was looking for a position at the centre of a Venn diagram with three criteria:  1) working on issues of most significance for bringing about a sustainable and inclusive world 2) taking greatest advantage of my skills, experience and who I am as a person (and potential to develop in future) 3) loveliness of work environment – indexed by the availability and rituals of tea :).

I withdrew from four other competitions to take the position at Involve, and three weeks into the job I’ve only become more convinced that I made the right decision (phew!).  Involve’s core business – transforming the relationship between citizens, decision-makers and governments – is fundamental to progress on almost all of the other issues I’m passionate about.

From tackling inequality to transforming our energy system, when you boil things down, time and again you see progress being blocked by a lack of effective dialogue between those who make decisions and those whose lives will be impacted by them.  A sense of alienation, resignation and powerlessness.  For me, it’s not so much about the vacant stare of a NEET as they shuffle grimly up the dole line.  It’s about the vacant assumptions of our economic elites, such as those gathering in Davos today, that what is really possible in the world should be carved out by those with a gilded lift pass.  Even these privileged souls are often dead behind the eyes, parroting the consensus of those-in-the-know because they think their position in the club depends on it.  I hope that through my work at Involve I’ll be able to help us treasure our most precious gift as humans: the gift of will (h/t John Ashton).  It is will that makes us human – and we cannot hope to build a humane or sustainable society without it.

The job is a fantastic opportunity for me to capitalise on my experience working on accountability, power and participation (see my background here) – and I’ve been learning from my new colleagues every day.

So a link to a big mission; some specific and crunchy projects to work on; some excellent people and a fabulous selection of teas.  Sold.

4 Responses to “Hello from Involve’s new deputy director”

  1. Michael La Costa
    January 27, 2014 at 8:15 pm

    Dr Pollard
    Your comment “lack of effective dialogue between those who make decisions and those whose lives will be impacted by them” resonates very loudly. The root cause of this can be addressed by simply making decisions UNIVERSALLY TRANSPARENT. For this we need a de facto methodology for ANY decision, involving ANY number of people, using a universal ‘language’ and always identifying the best choice. It must be easy to use and understand; above all, unity and commitment must be achieved when more than one person is involved.
    “Informed Choice – ic!” is an innovative Application which has all these attributes. Whilst it helps decision-makers to always reach the best choice, those affected can clearly understand, contribute to and even test the result.
    Moreover, it will be freely available on the Internet on a site which eschews advertising, donations, commissions, and subscriptions – i.e. no vested interests, to build and sustain trust and confidence in the process and keep beyond reproach; no privacy issues either. Nevertheless, with an equally innovative business model for the Digital Age, it will become a highly lucrative commercial venture.
    Engagement; Participation; Transparency; Universal understanding; Communication; they all add up to Democracy incarnate, on any subject, in any walk of life!
    If this is, prima facie, of interest, a presentation would be the next best step. Based already in London, location is not an issue. In any case, your response will be most welcome.
    With kindest regards

  2. Amy Pollard
    January 28, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Dear Michael,
    Thanks for your comment. I agree about the value of transparency in decision-making – I remember colleagues at Publish What You Fund making a powerful case for how transparency is the necessary but not sufficient condition for accountability.

    Great to see your passion for Informed Choice. It sounds like a very ambitious project, and if you can come up with an application to address all the interconnected challenges you mention that would be a contribution indeed!

    Involve is a small charity and we aren’t in a position to evaluate or take forward applications of this kind, but I wish you all the best in developing it.

    With best wishes,

    • Michael La Costa
      January 28, 2014 at 5:01 pm


      Your comments are much appreciated, but it seems I may not have made clear that the Application is already in beta form, ready to use. It also addresses all the interconnected challenges, and more (+ Xmas presents too). However, if Involve is not in a position to evaluate that, then there is little more I can do to help further your cause, in which case, allow me to thank you for your consideration.
      Kindest regards

  3. Amy Pollard
    January 29, 2014 at 8:48 am

    Thanks for your understanding Michael – very best of luck.

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