Friday 23 November 2007
Spoke today at the Shaping the Future of HR conference, which was the first All Ireland Local Government HR seminar. I spoke on the subject of delivering HR in a shared services environment in a joint session with Phil Badley who is the President of the Public Sector People Managers Association (PPMA).
As usual we got of to a stunning start when the technology wouldn't work, I hate it when that happens! However once we were underway it appeared to flow fairly well and Phil and myself were surprisingly singing a similar policy tune, surprising in the fact that we hadn't spoken or met before the event. I pushed a message of you don't need to create a complex company structure to deliver shared services, you can do it through joint working arrangements. Phil related to his own experiences and suggested that a lot of things claimed by people at the outset of ventures don't actually come to fruition, unfortunately Phil cited a couple of examples.
Of course we hadn't checked who was in the audience and someone from a large private contractor who played a major role in one of Phil's examples came back at both of us from the floor. Oh well you live and learn!
Two speakers who got me thinking were the 'HR Doctor' himself, Phil Rosenberg and Sir John Whitmore. Phil's points about as a manager "don't walk by something that's wrong, stop and take action" and "when you avoid things you set in motion a series of events that lead to major problems", struck a chord. Especially when he entwines them with this gem "put off the day when something bad happens, by taking action". Sir John's thoughts around "consumerism is not compatible with sustainability", "quantitative technical advance is far ahead of qualitative wisdom" and "hierarchy is failing and will be replaced by self responsibility", were also worth exploring.
Tuesday 13 November 2007
Met with colleagues today from INLOGOV
who are working on a research study for APSE into 'Governance, Neighbourhoods and Service Delivery'. This research is part of our ongoing tripartite partnership between both organisations and the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES
). The first publication 'Towards a Future for Public Employment' has already been issued and the other part in the research partnerships trilogy of reports 'The Economic Footprint of the Public Sector' is also underway running in parallel
We sword fenced around the project a bit before we got down to the facts of what we want to examine, basically this boils down to examining the links between local governance, local neighbourhoods and local employment. The bit that got really interesting was when we started to get into identifying what potential structures could be created to bring these key policy issues together. Having described some ideas of what I was looking for in terms of neighbourhood based budgeting, my academic colleagues explained to me that some key intellectual thinking existed around this area by Mintzberg
. So looks like we could be on a winner.
Watch this space!
Thursday 08 November 2007
Foolishly decided to be one of those super beings and did a 5.30am start today as speaking at the Society of Local Authority Chief Executives conference in Northern Ireland on the subject of 'Lessons of change and improvement'. (Note to myself go the night before in future!)
After doing the planes, trains and automobiles routine I got to Newcastle, County Down, just before 10.30am and my session started at midday. Despite having to neck copious amounts of caffeine to retain my focus the presentation appeared to go very well and my message seemed well received.
I gave some theory on change and improvement before talking about the 3 big change and improvement programmes I have been involved in during my career, reorganisation of local government in Scotland, the transformation of ADLO to APSE and as a highly interested observer and participant in the modernisation agenda for local government that has taken place over the past 10 years.
My 10 point change and improvement plan, based on my experiences, goes something like this:
Have a vision
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Get quick wins and publicise them
Create solid foundations
Celebrate a culture of success
Show some humility
Don't flog a dead horse
Despite the sleep deprivation, the long journey gave me plenty of time for reflection on the subject and by thinking through the mixture of theory and experience on change and improvement I gained an awful lot of learning and fresh ideas that I intend to put to good use in coming months.