Thursday, 14 January 2010

Back into the swing, feels a bit like shock therapy.....

I have to start with a couple of pics from my epic journey to Edinburgh, having decided for the sake of adventure to drive up the A68 rather than the A1. We hardly saw another vehicle for most of the way and the scenery was outsdanding....

for more winter pics see:

Anyway having arrived safely back on Sunday (via the A1!!) it was time to prepare for the week ahead. On Monday morning following an uneventful journey (our local mainline train service was back to normal, which is to say over priced mediocrity) I attended a cross organisational workshop led by Socitm looking at the future of public services with a specific focus on what may or may not be happening following the general election. The meeting was Chatham House so there will be no attribution of comments, or indeed detailed content but there was some very valuable discussion with some great throw aways:

"If you are not involved in futures work you could spend much of your time trying to solve yesterdays problems..."

"We continually hear how important info management is, but fail to see it achieving a significance that is treated as more of a priority than maintaining silo’d structures..."

We considered what the big ticket issues for local gov are as we move into 2010 (not rocket science) but, more importantly,observed that ".....whatever they are they will, above all else, be considered within a context of minimum 25% savings. Cuts are a growth area!"

.........Not long ago information was valuable insofar as if you had it and others did not you had an edge, but there is evidence to show that because of the overwhelming quantity, uncertain quality and ubiquitous access to information there is a less clear link between information and power or performance. This in turn suggests that the management of, and ability to deliver focussed and relevant information, is where the game must be played.

'There is a huge difference between information gathered ABOUT me which is then used by an organisation to better focus its marketing efforts AND information that an organisation may wish to provide TO or FOR a client or customer that adds value and offers real benefits. The latter is concerned with not only quality but also with ease of access, appropriateness of delivery channels etc.'

There will be further work on the detail in a range of areas, particularly that of information management.

Tuesday gave opportunity to dive into the e mail mountain and actually reply to some as well as attend buisness development and financial planning meetings. We are planning a joint workshop with Cap Gemini on Feb 8th / 9th at which we will consider one of the key questions facing local Government – ‘How can we use technology to evolve for the future?’

On Tuesday I met up with a friend and enjoyed a night at Round Midnight Jazz & Blues bar in Islington (see: ) which I can recommend if you like live music and a good pint.

Our National Advisory Council met on Wednesday and we had what I think was our most positive and productive meeting yet. The Council is one of the new groups set up as part of the 'new Socitm' and plays a crucial role as a link between the membership and the governing groups of the Society. In many ways we have been finding our way for the last 12 months and trying to strike a balance between an advisory and an assurance or scrutiny role and I think that this meeting really got to grips with that issue with some positve actions resulting.  This meeting flowed seamlessly into the Socitm membership board  at which we heard from Ellen, our Head of membership, on her recent activity around the regions and particularly the developments in professionalism and her work towards new membership grades. There was also good news about our pilot mentoring scheme from Bernard Gudgin. The scheme is proving to be popular and i am sure it will enjoy large numbers of participants once it is rolled out more widely.

Today (Thursday) we are meeting to discuss our (shortly to be released) communications strategy which will form a central plank in our future planning and will be a cohesive element across our other strategic areas (membership, policy and business development). More on this tomorrow....

For those who are aware that Socitm are awaiting a new web site....and waiting (integration issues with back office........) I am relaibly informed that next week will see its this space for more news on that.

and finally, for now, I liked this:

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