Making decisions about what we do next year – a blog by Karen Williams, Deputy Chief Executive

Last updated on 23 Feb 2023

We held an event with the wider HRA community - including members of the public - to help us make decisions about our priorities for the year ahead. Our deputy Chief Executive Karen Williams, blogs about why public involvement in this process is so important.

Earlier this year we held an event with the wider HRA community, including members of the public, to help us make decisions about what we do next year.

Every year, our senior leaders meet to look at our priorities for the work we do for the next financial year, which begins in April.

This year, for the first time ever, we invited three members of the public who have an interest in our work to join the meeting to act as a ‘critical friend’ and help us to ensure that the work we are planning is true to our new strategy to make it easy to do research that people trust.

Public involvement is very important to us and is at the heart of everything we do. Through the include pillar of our strategy we are committed to increasing public participation in how we make decisions.

We know that we can make better decisions by working with a diverse group of people with lived experience and making sure anyone who wants to can get involved.

A lot of work went into planning the meeting to ensure that everyone attending was able to contribute in a meaningful and beneficial way.

Ahead of the meeting, we worked together with the group on the structure for the event and the insights they provided were invaluable.

One of the first decisions we made was to change the way we referred to the meeting to ‘making decision about what we do next year’. A name that was much more accessible and does exactly what it says on the tin.

We also made changes to other aspects of the way we described the meeting to reduce jargon and clarify the process.

Due to the group’s feedback, we also changed the event to a hybrid meeting, which meant more people were able to get involved.

During the event we broke out into small groups to discuss the different aspects of our strategy and plan our priorities.

The discussion was very thought provoking and provided many valuable ideas and insights. The feedback from those who attended has been overwhelmingly positive.

Our next steps are to share the learning from the event with our strategy leads to plan our priorities and draft proposals which will be shared with the group for their feedback.

The day wasn’t without its challenges, and we know there is much more we can do to be more inclusive.

A key learning for us has been that it’s very easy to make unconscious assumptions about what you’re doing and having a wealth of different ideas, perspectives and experiences is critically important.

Another important insight is the importance of working jointly as much as possible to plan the structure of the day to create an environment where everyone can contribute.

It was a real privilege collaborating with the members of the public and we are very thankful to everyone who took part.

The event is a very important part of our decision-making processes, and their participation will help us to deliver on our ambition to make it easy to do research people can trust.

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Karen Williams, HRA deputy Chief Executive

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