Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a super council!
October 25, 2010 5 Comments
We’ve had easy councils and now we’re faced with super councils. Hammersmith & Fulham, Westminster and Kensington & Chelsea are considering joining forces in order to weather the huge cuts they’re facing in the next few years and I think it could work. Obviously each council is very different and has different needs but with some careful planning and collaborative working this could be ironed out.
I’m employed by one London council but work across three so in a microcosm, I understand how this could work. The councils each have a very different ethos with very different systems and structures and I’ve had to find a way of working with schools that dovetails with each authority’s needs. To begin with, it was bloody hard work but as we settled down together, it’s become a better and certainly more economical way of working. We share expertise and good practice across all three and that can only be good for our clients.
So here are my top tips for becoming a super council:
· As Harry Hill used to say ‘You gotta have a system.’ You have to be super organised and have systems and ways of working that can be understood by everyone.
· You have to take your stakeholders and clients with you. This is an additional step that is well worth the hassle and arguments. You might think you’ve got it all sussed and you probably have, but you need to bring everyone with you on your journey- they will be your biggest allies.
· You need to have crystal clear channels of communication. Again, a hassle but well worth the extra time and effort. If you’re used to being autonomous, the sudden interest from others can be annoying but again, in the long run, it’s worth it as everyone will be on your side and will be well informed (see above).
· You can’t be precious about your stuff- your stuff is now everybody else’s stuff. This is a criticism often levelled at public services- we are far too precious about our own jobs and our own staff. Play nicely and share with the other kids, ok, and then they are more likely to share back.
· Be flexible. You may need to change your precious and well thought out arrangements in order to fit in with others and their weird IT systems.
· Delegate. Your way is not the only way and sometimes someone will need to lead on something that you’ve previously led on. They might do it differently but this is not necessarily worse than yours. It’s just different.
· Take your time- change happens slowly and you might be in a rush to get started but it’s better to wait and get everything sorted out before rushing in headlong.
I’m looking forward to seeing how this works out and if you need a consultant to help out, you know who to call…