Starting something new

Name plate

Even though I have been interim CEX since June it feels very different – and very lovely – to now be able to say I am in post and Chief Executive of Adur and Worthing Councils.

I use this blog to reflect for myself on what I am doing, and this seems like an important moment to reflect and set an intent. I do this partly to hold myself to account in the future but also to work in the open and make it possible for my team also to hold to me account. Am using some fairly geeky language here – but it is my blog after all….

So here is my wish list as I step into this new role properly:

  • to nurture a culture with real physiological safety for all
  • to shape an organisation which is designed for the future and not stuck in old ways forms and ways of being
  • to be working towards a just transition and a different kind of economic growth based on net zero and non-extractive practices
  • to do this with and not to our communities – and to reflect the fact we need to do this with and not our staff
  • To help us think as good ancestors for the long term – while being present and effective in the here and now.

In that here and now I want to build on the work I started as interim to look at organisational resilience and I want us to design a vision, strategy and planning process that will allow us to imagine and dream big but deliver consistently and incrementally. I have also been thinking about how to bring that sense of space to my work – and the work we do as an organisation – and so my final wish is for me to find the right balance between pushing things forward and giving ideas (and people) time to breath.

I have also been reflecting on how my two professional areas of digital (whatever that means) and participation affect the way I work and the way I want to lead – I see both of these as present in both what I want to do and how I want to do it.

I also wanted to reflect on something I am bringing through from one of the questions I was asked during the interview process. It was about what the future holds for local government and my point was and is that much of what the future holds for Local Government depends on how we chose to define ourselves. If we define ourselves as we have been in the past than our future is a hard one. The inevitable rebalancing of budgets post Covid will hit our bottom line in multiple ways, not the least because of the lack of long term funding clarity and changes around the big agendas of Health and Social Care inevitably effect local government. The politically charged levelling up agenda is something that needs navigating as well as the latest cycle of devolution conversations. Local government has a lot to react to.

But there are other ways that we can define ourselves that put us more in a proactive place; celebrating local government as the democratic link between communities and government, the link between the real and the global economy and the link and convenor between partners of place. If we use this definition of local government then the challenges of the first definition don’t go away, but we put ourselves at the forefront of the social reinventions driven by wider global forces and can drive change for our places. I chose this definition where we develop a shared vision of the future with means we can face into the big challenges around us with a sense of optimism.

At the beginning of things everything is possible and its easy to be cynical about great intentions at the start of anything. But I write these things down because when you are in the work you need to keep hold of those possibilities as it’s in that dreaming you create something new.

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