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UCL Public Engagement Blog



Nothing wrong with being Gobby

By Rory, on 17 January 2021

If you’re sick of ticking boxes, get ready for Gobby, a more collaborative, more person-centred, more human approach to questionnaires! We’re excited to hear from Gary about how he developed an online survey tool that actually gives people a voice. Thank you for all of the support Gary, it’s great to be working together! If you would like to experience Gobby check out our website development survey, we would love to hear your thoughts!

Meet Gary from Gobby

Gary is captured in this photo in the middle of a hearty laugh. He is outside, wearing a green hoodie and has a dark beard.

Say hello to Gary!

Hi everyone, for those of you I havent met yet I’m Gary. I left school in the early nineties not knowing what I was going to do with my life.

My aunty Janet, a District Nurse at the time, took me to one side and said, “You’re good with people, you should work with people”. So, before I knew it, I found myself immersed in the social care sector, supporting adults with learning disabilities, autism, and their families.

I loved it. Although I was shy and lacking in confidence, I developed relationships and trust quickly with everyone around me.

I got a lot out of making a difference to people’s lives, and still do. But it was my training in delivering services for people with complex needs where I learned about the value of getting support right; and doing right by people.

We were still emerging from decades of institutionalised services and practice. There was still much to do – and arguably still is. I realised that providing consistently good ‘people’ services doesn’t come by chance or purely good intentions.

The importance of being ‘person-centred’ was drilled into me from day one: what are the right questions to ask in assessing someone’s needs and aspirations? How do the answers help create support plans designed to achieve life goals? And how do we celebrate these achievements?

These questions, and this approach to my day-to-day work, was the most valuable lesson I was ever taught, and it stuck. Being truly person-centred requires empathy. Putting some effort in to understanding another person’s thoughts and feelings that have been shaped from experiences and environments that can be vastly different to our own.

What makes us human is our ability to use our senses to process the world around us and develop relationships. And, as we enter every new situation in life, we can draw from our bank of experience to make sense of ‘reality’.

In 2012, I went back to education and studied Quality Assurance and Management. My goal was to achieve some academic credentials after growing up [a bit]. But it was important to me that I continue to learn about the importance of ‘customer voice’, and listening to it to improve quality e.g. meeting people’s requirements (their reality).

As part of my studies, I needed to collect information from larger groups of people to better understand what they valued. How things could improve. And offer ideas. But I found that traditional online survey tools weren’t right for the job. They didn’t give people a voice, and they weren’t very engaging.

We value our reality greatly. It helps form our identity and makes us interesting. So why, when we receive another invitation to an online survey, must we be restricted to ticking boxes for answers set by someone else? Someone that may not understand our reality.

This hampered my research because the technology wasn’t available for me to do something I was passionate about. It was frustrating and I ended up using a lot of time, and paper, to get the results I needed for my course!

So I decided to do something about it. Gobby was born and it centred around ‘voice of the customer’ (VoC), with an understanding that people’s diverse backgrounds and experiences are valuable.

If people are able to freely express and share their reality on any given subject as a group, then we can co-create innovation, problem-solving and push in the same direction when it comes to making changes.

Gobby, as an online survey tool, looks similar to all the rest. But it is uniquely different in that it asks more ‘open’ questions, and all answers are created, and voted on, by those contributing to the survey.

It’s more collaborative, more person-centred, more human.

The terms co-creation and co-production have only entered my vocabulary in developing Gobby as a concept. Learning from the process of product development, involving people, and seeing the outcomes has led me to research the topics further.

In November 2020, I read a blog on UCL’s website celebrating the official launch of the Co-Production Collective and after reading the vision and mission statements, I was hooked!

I look forward to supporting the Co-Production Collective’s activities and am eager to learn from others with similar passions and goals.

Against a white background, three illustrated figures discuss questions. Above them the hashtag #Co-ProductionCollective and the tagline Asking the right questions

The Co-production Collective is very excited to announce a new collaboration! Gobby is survey software that is much more aligned to our core values than traditional survey tools.

Get in touch!

Please complete our Website Survey (powered by Gobby), the deadline is Friday 29 January 2021.

Picking the right survey software is another exciting chapter for us, as we continue developing Co-Production Collective. As always, we would appreciate your feedback, ideas and suggestions as would Gary.

If you have worked previously with surveys or have ideas about how the Collective should approach this subject in the future, let us know! Please email to coproduction@ucl.ac.uk and we will get back to you.


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