The path to successful partnerships: ‘You need to look sideways’

Name: Duggs Carré

Title: Comoodle Program Leader

City: Kirklees, U.K.

On the face of it, Comoodle — a website built by Kirklees Council in the north of England — is a platform where people can borrow stuff from each other, find space to hold community meetings, and seek out learning opportunities. But below the surface is a powerful twist on the role of local government. Comoodle is not about providing for residents. Rather, it’s about facilitating ways residents can provide for each other.

Duggs Carré took charge of this shift four years ago when Kirklees won the Bloomberg Philanthropies Mayors Challenge with the idea for Comoodle. Since then, the platform has brokered more than 1,400 trades of everything from sporting equipment to a portable public address system. These swaps have not only saved money for event organizers and the local rugby club, but also helped community groups launch initiatives such as a summertime youth fitness program. Other communities are now seeing the value in this model: Comoodle spinoffs recently launched in York and Camden.

Carré is stepping aside this week as the Kirklees Council looks to transition ownership of Comoodle to a social enterprise that can keep the growth going. Reflecting on the program’s success, Carré said local-level collaborations were critical. “It’s all about connections and trust,” he said. “The platform allowed us to speak to other organizations like local charities and business partners. Sometimes the most unexpected contacts are the most useful. One lesson learned: You always need to look sideways. Talk to people and listen to other people’s stories in order to look for synergies.”

“Don’t over-specify a solution. Be clear about what problem you’ve got, what goal you’re trying to achieve, and what purpose you’re trying to serve, but be open-minded about what kinds of partnerships will emerge to provide a solution.”

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