A huge thank you to Leapfrog’s Advisory Board members

The final meeting of the Leapfrog Advisory Board meeting took place at the Glasgow School of Art on the 6th February 2018. From its inception in early 2015 the role of the board was not to oversee the management and finances of Leapfrog, but to support the Leapfrog team by acting as a group of critical friends and expert users of Leapfrog tools. The board was invited to ask challenging questions about Leapfrog’s research and engagement activities, engage in dialogue about the research findings and learn from one another’s experience. To enable the board to have a genuine input into the project, the Leapfrog team was encouraged to be open about challenges the project was facing, when projects or events hadn’t gone to plan, as well as share success stories. Board members were chosen for their wide range of expertise and experience and come from a range of public sector, community and research backgrounds from across the UK and the Netherlands.

Topics covered in the meetings ranged from: discussing potential research proposals and partners, the areas Leapfrog could have the most impact, the importance of embedding evaluation into the Leapfrog project to evidence long term impact, and ethical considerations when engaging with potentially vulnerable groups. Several discussions focused on how we could empower the users of Leapfrog tools to share tools within their peer-​to-​peer networks, the accessibility of the language Leapfrog use to communicate, and who the different audiences were that Leapfrog sought to engage with and influence. We also explored the legacy of Leapfrog beyond the initial 3 year Arts and Humanities Research Council funded project.

The idea to hold a co-​design residential for young people who were experienced in the care system came from a discussion with board member Emma Barrett Palmer. Emma recommended we aim to give the young people a potentially transformative experience by bringing the group to the university. The board gave the team invaluable advice about the importance of giving immediate feedback to young people in formats (short videos) they would enjoy. They felt it was really important the Leapfrog team fed back to the young co-​designers the impact that the tools they designed had on helping other young people in similar situations.

In one memorable meeting the term ‘Meringueification’ was coined after a lengthy discussion on the need from public sector partners who do creative engagement to be able to take soft stories of peoples lives and turn these into hard qualitative evidence that can be used to make evidence based policy decisions.

Aligning stakeholder agendas and priorities to the aims and objectives of Leapfrog research projects was a delicate balancing act. Leapfrog came about in times of austerity and public sector partners could understandably sometimes see Leapfrog as an extra resource. While this was welcomed, Leapfrog had to ensure that agendas were ethically aligned with partners, and that research projects always resulted in real benefits to communities. One intense debate was around whether by working with councils in times of crisis Leapfrog was assisting in austerity, something that made the team a little uncomfortable. The consensus was that the cuts to the public sector were a reality and that Leapfrog should focus on working with public sector partners to design positive future scenarios and tools. Through the use of a co-​design approach Leapfrog could re-​energise both public sector employees and communities we worked with and bring benefits to all.

The board meetings always left the Leapfrog team reenergised and refocused. We would like to express our appreciation for the time and expert contributions made by all the board members. Below is a full list of all the board members who attended the meetings in Lancaster and Glasgow over three years:

Prof Jon Dovey, Professor of Screen Media, Director of Digital Cultures Research Centre, University of West of England, Bristol (Chair)

Ingrid van der Wacht, Dutch Design Foundation, Eindhoven

Emma Barrett, HumanKinder (previously Social Innovation Lab Kent)

Dr Garrath Williams, Senior Lecturer Applied Ethics, Lancaster University

Kenneth Barnsley, Public Health Specialist, Blackburn with Darwen Council

Dr Theodore Zamenopoulos, Senior Lecturer in Design, The Open University

David Lawson, Regeneration Manager, Lancaster City Council

Maurice Brophy, Planning and Housing Policy Manager, Lancaster City Council

Harriet Hunter, Head of Organisational Development, Scottish Government

Rachel McCormack, Strengthening Communities Director, Highlands & Islands Enterprise

Colin Marr, CEO, Eden Court, Inverness

Ruth Haigh, local Community member, Lancaster


Capturing the use of a physical toolboxes using SMS surveys

In 2017 the Leapfrog project collaborated with Square Systems to create and deploy a new form of SMS survey. As part of Glasgow School of Art delivering the Peer-​to-​Peer Remote Communities project, we created a series of tools in collaboration with people living in the Highlands and Islands of Scotland to help rural communities to plan really great community events and engage with local people. Working with Square Systems and their feedback management platform, Opinion8, we created a SMS-​based survey system to gather feedback on the tools in remote areas without reliable web connectivity. The survey used an opt-​in model with a prominent invitation on every tool inviting users to send feedback via SMS.

In order for these tools to reach as many people in remote and hard to reach areas, we produced over 150 physical copies of the Make It Happen toolbox, in addition to the digital downloads offered for all Leapfrog’s other tools. The Opinion8 SMS-​based survey gave Leapfrog a unique means to learn how people use these physical toolboxes, complementing the online tracking of tool downloads from our website.

Working directly with Square Systems and their feedback tool Opinion8, Leapfrog researchers at Lancaster University and Glasgow School of Art collaborated to devise, implement and monitor the SMS survey. We are grateful to Square Systems for their support of this initiative, and for investing the time needed to create a new form of survey suited to opt-​in academic research activities. Over the past six months we’ve seen less use of the survey than we would have hoped, but have gained valuable insight into what is possible with SMS-​based surveys, now and in the future. For Leapfrog, this experimental survey has underlined the value of present and personal connections to ensure people share their experiences using Leapfrog tools, combined with the need to provide very low barriers for busy practitioners and community members to participate in research activities.

Conferences and Research Papers

As Part of Leapfrogs outputs there will be a number of top quality referable papers to be published.

We will announce them as they are available to read.


The Design Journal (Aug 2017) pp.561–576

Beyond Human Centred Design: supporting a new materiality in the Internet of Things, or how to design when a toaster is one of your users.’ 

Cruickshank, L; Trivedi, N 


Swedish Design Research Journal #1.17 (2017)

Designing, Adapting and Selecting Tools for Creative Engagement: A Generative Framework

Cruickshank, L; Whitham, R; Rice, G; Alter, H


The International Journal of Art & Design Education (Oct 2017) pp.261–272

Reflective Drawing as a Tool for Reflection in Design Research

Calvo, M


The Design Journal Vol 20 (2017)

Providing Fast Flowing Calm Waters. The role of the Design Manager in mid-​large scale Public Sector Co-​Design Projects 

Coupe, G; Cruickshank, L

The Design Journal Vol 20 (2017)

Design for Social Sustainability. A reflection on the role of the physical realm in facilitating community co-design 

Calvo, M; De Rosa, A

Open design and innovation : facilitating creativity in everyone

E Book published, London, New York, Routledge, 2016. ISBN: 9781315598932 1315598930, OCLC No.: 952730134

Cruickshank, L

The Journal of Innovation Impact
(V: 6, #: 2, Pg: 165)

Understanding high-​impact research through mode 1 and mode 2 research approaches (2016)

Cruickshank, L


Connected Communities Conference Norwich 2016

Leapfrog and Other Actions Moving Between Design Theory and Practice

Cruickshank, L; Whitham, R; Coupe, G


Public Space, London, UK (Nov 2016)

Contextualising Citizens: Design-​Led Approaches To Visualising Community Ecologies, Building Interventions And Mobilising Citizen Participation

Smith, P; Broadley, C 


iJADE Conference 2016: Drawing,  University of Chester, UK (Nov 2016)

Reflective drawing’: drawing as a tool for reflection in design research

Calvo, M


ESREA: 8th Triennial European Research Conference, Maynooth University, Ireland (Sep 2016)

Cultural-​Historical Activity Theory and Informal Learning as a Key Component of Co-​design Practice in a Community Initiative

Calvo, M; Sclater, M; Smith, P


Co-​­Designing Creative Evaluation Approaches

Challenges and Best Practice in Co-​Production, Sheffield, UK (May 2016)

Manohar, A


Soundings and Findings Conference, University of East Anglia, UK (Jul 2015)

Owls of Creative Evaluation

Manohar, A; Smith, M


Design Research Society Conference, Brighton (Jun 2016)

Capturing the “How”: Showing the value of co-​design through creative evaluation

Manohar, A; Smith, M; Calvo, M




Improve It Short Project Report

The report for the short project Improve It is now available to download from this page.

Find out how Leapfrog, together with Lancashire County Council took Everybody, Topic Tally and  Storyboard contract tools, and co-​created new versions of tools to be used in leaving care services.

Improving three young people’s tools with Care Leavers Support Workers

Lancashire County Council has been working in partnership with Leapfrog to collaboratively redesign some of the young people’s tools to invigorate the pathway planning process of care leavers and support workers, as the current YP tools are viewed as inappropriate for their work.

A leapfrog workshop on improving engagement tools led by PhD student Rosendy Galabo, co-​facilitated with Professor Leon Cruickshank, with support of Debbie Stubbs was delivered on 27th November at ImaginationLab. The workshop was attended by 10 care leavers support workers from Leaving Care Service (PPA), North Lancashire. The focus on the session was to explore the inappropriateness of three YP tools (Everybody, Storyboard contract, and Topic Tally), and come up with ideas for improving these YP tools according to support workers’ practice.

In this half-​day workshop, the group of support workers came up with a set of proposals for improving Leapfrog tools in three different ways, and the day concluded with them presenting their suggestions for improvement. The Leapfrog design team will develop these ideas further and create new versions of the tools for care leavers planning process before making them freely available for download on Leapfrog website.

Community-​Led Development

Last week Leapfrog were invited to attend the Leading Communities to Success event in the Three Villages Community Hall in the village of Arrochar, set against the head of Loch Long, located on the Cowal peninsula in Argyll and Bute, Scotland. The event was organised as part of the second Argyll Enterprise Week that brings business and community support events to towns across Argyll. The themes for the events had been wide ranging covering topics from tourism, food and drink, to digital. The event we were invited to attend focussed on Community Led Development, and was aimed at supporting communities that are interested in buying local assets and developing community-​led projects. 

Through a succession of talks, case study presentations, networking opportunities, and workshops, the day aimed to ‘inspire, inform and connect individuals and groups to help them to make real and sustainable improvements within their communities.’ Key to the day was the opportunity for communities that have already developed their own community projects, and aspiring communities yet to get projects off the ground, to gather to share their insights, their learning, and their valuable experiences, all with the help and support of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Argyll and Bute Council, and Community Land Scotland.

The day began with a warm welcome from Ian Hepburn, the chair of Community Land Scotland, which exists to ‘represent Scotland’s new generation of community land owners’, supporting communities to benefit from community land ownership. Ian opened proceedings with a brief introduction to Community Land Scotland and the work they do. Following Ian’s rapid overview Dave Thompson of the Scottish Government took the floor to talk about Community Right to Buy. Dave introduced the scheme and took us through the technical and process information about how communities can register their right to purchase local assets, as well as some valuable advice from his considerable experience of community buy outs. He spoke about how recent legislative changes in Scotland have opened up more opportunities for communities to take control and participate in their local area development. He spoke of success and how we define success, the scale of success, and how actually ‘success is many different things to different people’. Yet for him, success is when the community achieves what it set out to achieve, and his advice for making community projects a success was to get out and engage the community from the start and throughout, which can really help to make community land projects a success.

Following the warm welcome and the introduction to Right to Buy by Dave, the day moved on with two community case studies from existing stories of success. John McDonald talked about their community successes, and Elaine Morrison, representing the Isle of Gigha Heritage Trust, presented their trials, tribulations and successes since the community buy out of the Isle of Gigha in 2004.

Two very interesting talks that, as well as showing just what is possible for a community with a lot of hard work, collaboration and creativity, showed the value of community engagement and its place in community developments. Elaine especially was a great advocate for engaging with communities and sustaining engagement as a major component to community-​led projects. Not such an easy task at the scale of an entire island! Yet the point was that communicating with a community at every stage leads to trust and understanding that is imperative to sustainable community developments. What was particularly inspiring to hear was the big impact that really good community engagement can have. Good community engagement often leads to successful community initiatives, that, in the case of Gigha, has led to maintaining a stable population and even a reversal of depopulation, an issue for many communities on the Western Isles of Scotland. This is if course not always the case, but this example shows the impact of how making engagement a key part of a community development strategy can have positive ramifications down the line that can last for a long time. 

After a lunch and networking there was an informative talk about asset transfer in Argyll and Bute, quickly followed by delegates getting involved in two workshops. The first focused on community housing and the second on community-​led renewable energy. As the day drew to a close there was an opportunity for feedback and discussion and finally the day wrapped up with some closing remarks and ‘next steps’ plans for the future by Ian Hepburn. Over all it was an incredibly interesting and inspiring day, and a great opportunity for communities across Argyll to come together to meet, share ideas and learning, hear of the latest developments in community-​led assets, and see the value of community engagement.