Thinking about the long term in an ever changing world

I remember a friend in the early 1980’s joking that in his job, he didn’t look out of the window in the morning, or he wouldn’t have anything to look forward to in the afternoon. He wasn’t being serious, but it struck me that we certainly couldn’t say that of life at the moment. The burning question for us is how we plan our long-term strategy while at the same time dealing with the detail of the here and now. This, in my opinion, is the true test of a strategic leader.  Devolution apparently remains on the government’s agenda, but it appears to be city focussed. It does not focus on planning for Brexit, making a reality of the NHS’s Sustainability and Transformation Plans (STP), or for designing and delivering the public services of the future. I’m increasingly of the opinion that we have to press on with what’s good for Staffordshire, keep going until we’re told to stop, as Philip Atkins puts it.

The Brexit event of the Staffordshire Strategic Partnership last month surpassed our expectations. Over 100 opinion formers from the public and private sectors spent the morning looking at what we will have to do to make a success of leaving the EU. It was a fascinating session, and it is clear that, if the Government want the views of places as well as sectors, it will fall to organisations like the county council to provide that coordination and leadership. There really isn’t anybody else to do it.

It’s clear that, particularly if there is to be a “hard Brexit” with no access to the Single Market and a reduction in the flow of migrant labour, that the economy will change shape, and we will have to re-learn skills long forgotten, as well as learning new skills. Companies and organisations like us will have to adapt to the new realities. If we get it right, it will be the making of us, but I sense that it’s not going to be simple.

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