Why we are not setting the why on fire

We are working hard now on how we take the detail of Our Plan and the next stages of our change work out to the members and wider organisation and we have circled back around to the why question – why exactly are we doing this?

It’s a good question to which there are multiple answers.

There are simple answers; the fact our last strategy has come to an end, the change in our political leadership that means we need to think differently and of course the arrival of me as a new CEX and we all know those LOVE a new strategy. Those are true answers but they are not the real answer in my mind.

The other simple answer to the ‘why change’ question is financial and the internal and external impacts of the cost of living crisis.

But there will always be another crisis – another burning platform – and we are exhausted from reacting to them – what we need is reason to change that makes things actually better. A hopeful story and one which takes us closer to our purpose which is the stewardship of our places and the health of the system around them.

The burning platform is a transformation cliche – borne from the piper alpha disaster its the idea that you create change by accepting that the status quo is unsurvivable. It’s a cliche that has survived I think for two reasons; it speaks to the idea that there is a heroic saviour who is leading you through change and it gives people no choices.

I believe we do have choices.

I believe that if we properly orientate the organisation to the world as it is rather than what it has been then we will be profoundly more able to serve our communities and in doing do better by staff as we create something that is properly resilient, adaptive and participative.

The slow world of top down hierarchies and silo’d teams is one we need to move on from. That world does not enable us to move quickly and adapt and it doesn’t allow us to get the most out of the technology that needs to be central to any modern organisation. It also doesn’t allow us to be consistently person centred or data informed – silo’s cut us into pieces and then we have to spend our energy putting stuff back together again.

I was in a session recently where we debated whether it’s time to stop talking about digital as a separate transformation and I think it is. We need to properly go further that the technology and adopt new ways of working which better reflect the world outside the organisation which is more digitally entangled but more importantly increasing concerned with human connection and driven by the knowledge that our planet needs is to behave differently.

I believe we are changing in order to better reflect what our places need – to ground ourselves in the changes which are happening around us and to be better able to adapt to those changes going forward. I see a change to reflect the world around us to be part of our role as stewards and custodians of place – we are changing because our staff and communities need resilience not efficiency and because extraordinary things happen when people are able to participate.

This is a positive why – its about relevance and its about connection with place – its not a burning platform – but it is a bright opportunity. It’s an opportunity we have been able to start to describe in the hopeful moments of the work we have been building together and which we want to develop and make real with the rest of the organisation so it can come to life.

The real work is not in optimistic blog posts – its in the grind of actually making it happen – but more on that to follow.

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