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Looking back on 'Fundamentally Different'

Chris Catteral, Capacity CEO

Something interesting happens when 100 creative leaders, thinkers and doers come together to discuss transforming public services.

That’s what happened last week at Fundamentally Different – an event designed to challenge the status quo in public services. To ask leaders and their organisations what does the future of public services look like? How do you see yourselves in that future? Is there a better way to provide public services in the Liverpool City Region, Cheshire and across the UK?

The buzz and energy generated on the day was incredible. I’m very grateful to everyone who contributed and attended for their enthusiasm and generously giving their time. 

And special thanks to all our speakers for sharing their ideas and insights.

Jame Plunkett’s thoughtful and inspiring keynote was a call for action for everyone who wants to be part of the transformation taking place in public services.

The panel, brilliantly hosted by Liz Cross, brought positivity and realism to the challenges and opportunities we’re facing in public services. 

Thanks again to Elizabeth Hartley, Incoming Director of Children’s Services, Wirral MBC, Phil Porter, Chief Executive, Sefton Council, Naomi Hulston, Chief Executive, Catch 22. Kate Arden, former Director of Public Health, GMCA Health Protection. 

The lightning talks brought to life public service innovation taking place in Liverpool City Region. Dean Renshaw, Open Door. Emily Rempell, CDC. Sam Thorley, Yonder. Jennifer Van Der Merwe, Kindred were compelling voices for a new approach to public service design and delivery.

What jumped out was the creativity and tenacity of partners in Liverpool City Region to do things differently. 

New and radical public service design is already happening. Everyone was inspired by stories from local authorities, charities, socially-trading organisations already responding to the challenges we face in public services.

“Really thought-provoking and hinted at the art of the possible – looking forward to being a part of future developments to do something truly different.”


The day focussed on not just on creating awareness of change in public services, but inciting action. It’s difficult to pick out highlights and takeaways, there were so many, so let’s reflect on some of the key themes:

  • We can’t keep doing what we’ve been doing, we need a new way. 
  • People and relationships need to be at the heart of everything we do – it’s relational not transactional.
  • We need less strategy and more doing.
  • We need to be alive to but not afraid of the complexity of what we’re tackling.

So what’s next? Well, we’re serious about creating real change, not just talking about it. That means we’re committed to: 

  • Continuing to connect and bring brilliant people and organisations together.
  • Building a community of like-minded, driven and inspirational people, creating safety in numbers and providing the conditions for the bold and the brave to be pioneers.
  • More events and more activities, sharing our collective learning.
  • Finding the right partners and place to start this work now, and continually iterating until we get it right.

We’re looking forward to the next steps, when we turn our listening and learning into the ‘doing’ that’s needed to create conditions for the fundamental changes our city region needs. 

“Thanks for hosting a fantastic event. I really enjoyed the rapid-fire talks and the opportunities to catch up with some familiar faces and meet new ones”

Some final thoughts

As we see old models struggling to adapt to new realities, Liverpool City Region and Cheshire are perfectly positioned to pioneer a new way of delivering public services that make a positive, long-term impact on the lives of local people and communities.

Innovation and doing things differently often take a back seat. But they’re at the heart of what Capacity does.  

And we’re excited by the community of like-minded people ready to transform public services in Liverpool City Region. The opportunity to pioneer new approaches in public service design has real momentum with the news of a Liverpool City Region Combined Authority-led Office for Public Service Innovation – one of the key priorities from Liverpool Strategic Futures Advisory Panel’s Final Report.

The timing of Fundamentally Different could not have been better.

We believe ‘making public service people services’ can’t wait. That urgency came out loud and clear from everyone who attended Fundamentally Different.  A group of committed, creative people ready to lead the change we all want to see. 

To make that ambition a reality, we need your help.

We’re looking to work with people and partners who share our ambition, our vision and our enthusiasm. If you think that might be you, let’s talk, please contact