“A Space to Grow?”


How would you like to work in a place which set itself out as “A Space to Grow”?

A place where you could:

Achieve your personal goals;

Provide an outstanding service;

Fulfil your sense of vocation.

A place where your employers:

cared for your personal welfare and well-being;

focussed upon the impact of their service to users;

were flexible and willing to take decisions based upon consideration of circumstances – as opposed to being locked down by policy;

trusts that their employees want to do their best;

encouraged innovative and entrepreneurial practice to meet the needs of service users.

Sound a good place to be?

Well that’s an insight into what we got up to today at our first Leadership Team meeting for East Lothian Council’s Chief Officers.

Alex McCrorie – our new Acting Chief Executive – clearly set out a new agenda of change and opportunity where we are determined to listen, respond and work with our users and colleagues to improve the quaility of service we provide.

Despite the challenge provided by recent circumstances and the on-going concern over single status I was – in common with my colleagues – excited by the prospect of creating a new and vibrant culture for East Lothian Council.

A culture which is shared across all services and which shapes the practice and behaviour of all leaders in our organisation.

A culture  where we learn from our short-term experiences and translate them into new forms of practice.

A culture in which people can take pride and satisfaction in supporting, benefitting from, and promoting.

2 thoughts on ““A Space to Grow?”

  1. I’m not sure if this goes far enough. The language used perpetuates the increasingly outdated idea of service providers as gatekeepers who have all the decision-making power, and there’s no mention of working with others.

    For example these extracts imply the view of the user as passive recipient:
    – “focussed upon the impact of their service to users”
    – “encouraged innovative and entrepreneurial practice to meet the needs of service users”

    There’s an increasing recognition now that as the context within which services are provided becomes increasingly complex, “listening” or consultation often isn’t enough. It’s simply not possible for any one service provider to have a rich enough understanding to judge well enough all the messy compromises often required.

    Expectations are also much higher now that services should be individualised, so even the idea of a standard “service to users” is outdated. We certainly see this in education.

    Involving service recipients in decision-making is being found to produce significant improvements. And of course technology is making this more feasible.

    See for example the recent DEMOS report “The Collaborative State” (203 pages, pdf)

    But at best, collaboration holds out the tantalising prospect of a new approach to running local public services. It presents the possibility of replacing the old rigidities with flexible federations of public bodies that can quickly sense and adapt to changing need, at
    the same time creating new forums that bring people and institutions together to identify shared problems and work collaboratively on solutions.

    I hope this doesn’t seem negative, but these issues do seem conspicuous by their absence in what is otherwise a very encouraging story.

  2. I think David’s point is an important one, the ideals described in the post are sound but a sense of collaboration and ‘mutual growth’ seem to be absent.

Comments are closed.