Spear of Destiny
Sir Bob Kerslake’s four month-long corporate health check of the council is nearing its conclusion and his report will almost certainly be published sometime early next week.
I expect that there will be plenty of food for thought and that we will have to produce some kind of action plan in response. However, I am also clear that the city council must continue to focus on those issues that it has itself already identified as “mission critical” if we are to serve the people of Birmingham effectively and proudly in the years to come.
It was with this thought very much in mind that I met 200 or so of our BEST Leaders last week. I wanted to give colleagues a clear message that, however much external advice we get – and we’re getting quite a lot at the moment – let’s not forget that we are quite capable of shaping our own future from within the organisation.
For example, through the Big Conversations we have been forging the values, purpose and operating models for the future city council, demonstrating to each other that we have the ideas, energy and commitment needed to move ourselves forward.
And, as we approach the time of year when the details of our proposed priorities for 2015/16 go before the public for consultation, it is important to remember that the shaping of the future council is, principally, our responsibility. I truly value constructive, informed external support and challenge as they aid understanding of the problems to be tackled and how they might be addressed. We should always be open to learning from others.
But, and it is a very important but, truly sustainable change only comes from within and, therefore, it is up to us to own the agenda of continuous improvement. At their very best, commissioners, reviewers and advisors (nay, even inspectors) bring welcome insight, stimulate constructive debate, and incentivise effort. But, for us to move forward authentically and convincingly, and in a way that will stick, we need to seize our destiny with both hands and prove that we have the motivation and imagination to make a positive difference everyday to the lives of our citizens.
So, as one of our BEST colleagues said: go out there and be positive – because positivity breeds positivity.