There is certainly no shortage of collaboration across our region at the moment. The Dynamites awards last week showed how willing people are to work together and this was followed the next morning by our latest regional Socitm meeting. Graham, Richard and I have had a bit of a campaign to get more numbers to the event. We’d sent out emails to remind everyone that we were there and the kinds of things that we got up to. It seemed to have worked. I have never seen the room so full. Graham had to go out and get more chairs and if this carries on we may need a bigger venue. Let’s not get carried away though.
It was also held in the same week as the National Conference and so people may have been Socitmed out.
We try to theme these events and this time the focus was around cultural and process change. Andy from ANS got us underway by telling us how they had dramatically reduced their time to market for new products and services. They were leading the way in offering private cloud as a service and had got what would have normally taken six months to develop and install down to a number of days. I have been interested for many years about the Toyota Production Method, Vanguard, Virginia Mason and Lean Start-up models but it was great to hear from someone who was seeing the results of such an approach in the flesh.
Next up was Dr Phil Veal from Silbo who talked to us about design thinking and empathetic design. Again, I have been concerned about our desire to over plan everything rather than work with the natural chaos of any system. As Phil puts it, ‘You cannot plan in a creative environment. Instead, you have to play with the right mind set and keep trying until a solution pops out.’ A sand box anyone?
Last of our triptych was Nick from Crown Commercial Services who told us about using procurement to increase efficiency, create markets and improve customer service. I always think that in public service these things should be the other way around and I did make my point.
It turned out to be another great meeting. When I first got seriously involved in Socitm I was resigned to a steady decline in membership and interest, predominantly on the back of decreasing numbers of local authorities in the area, post Local Government Review. It looks like my concerns were unfounded and we could have a rosy future ahead.
What will our next theme be? Any suggestions would be welcomed.