Ketso is the product of practical development since the mid 1990s, including over a decade of cutting-edge research at the University of Manchester. While focused on planning for sustainability, this research has allowed Ketso to be tested in a variety of settings. The research has been sponsored by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council), Sustainable Consumption Institute, Mersey Basin Campaign, Irk Valley Project, Manchester City Council and the Environment Agency.
Research by Ketso’s founder, Dr. Joanne Tippett, has explored the challenges posed by sustainable development and explored new ways of combining participatory processes with ecological planning; all which has contributed to the development of Ketso.
Many participatory processes ask people’s opinions on pre-formed solutions, instead of helping them to develop their own ideas. This limits the mutual efforts of ‘professional experts’, stakeholders and citizens to learn from each other, which in turn leads to disillusionment.
An important insight to emerge from the research was the importance of the hands-on tools that were used in enabling community members to engage effectively with the planning process. The recognition by stakeholders of the value of this process prompted the development of a social enterprise to make these tools and processes more widely available.
Each component of the physical toolkit was designed to embody a key principle of community engagement and/or creative thinking, which was tested and developed in the research. An example of such an insight is value of metaphors for encouraging different kinds of thinking in the creative process (drawing together both de Bono’s work on creative thinking and insights about the value of asset based planning in community development). A further example was the use of moveable pieces in a hands-on process, to enable participants to build a shared picture of the group’s thinking. Ketso thus represents a physical manifestation of ideas to emerge from the original research.
The research showed that participants appreciated the opportunity to learn from each other and work together creatively, and saw the value of Ketso in helping them to do this.
More information about the research behind Ketso, as well as references to publications authored by its founder, Dr. Joanne Tippett, are available on her page on her University of Manchester website.