Posts Tagged ‘Strategy’

Clothes Swap, and the Queen’s Award for Enterprise

Monday, September 23rd, 2019

For this week’s blog, I wanted to remind everyone about the Waste Team’s brilliant ‘Clothes Swap’ taking place in SP1 today. We throw away so many clothes these days, when many can be reused or recycled. This clothes swap is an excellent way to recycle your old or unwanted clothes, and will help us to think more carefully about what we throw away in future.

For more information and to get involved in this and future swaps, click here.

It was a pleasure to attend the awards ceremony for the Queen’s Award for Enterprise for Conversion Rates Experts, a small and highly international digital company which is based in the unlikely setting of a country house in Rugeley.  Most of the employees were there, gathering for their one day a year when they meet face to face.  The rest of the year they work from their homes designing and optimising some of the most world’s biggest companies’ websites.  As well as sharing in their celebration, I learned more about Smart Working from a company that really makes it happen.  They have developed techniques and tools which build the ethos of the company, but the key is getting the culture right, which came as no surprise to me.  In an industry where people move very quickly, they have built up an amazing loyalty.  I’m hoping that Ben Jesson will come to one of our future Senior Managers’ Conferences to explain not only what a successful digital business in Staffordshire needs from its county council, but also perhaps share some tips on the next steps for us in Smart Working.

On a completely different subject, and testament to how varied this job is, I returned to the office to present the Health and Care Sustainability and Transformation Partnership (STP) Estates Strategy to senior NHS officials.  Last year, we were disappointed to receive an “Improving” grade for our work, but we listened to the feedback, and this year it looks like we will be heading into “Good” territory.  This is testament to the efforts of a large number of people, but if I can single out 3 for particular praise, it would Wendy Woodward, Becky Jones and Phil Brenner.  The Estates Strategy will not in and of itself makes the transformation that community care needs in Staffordshire and Stoke, but it will enable many of the changes that need to be made, and support the new workforce model, as well as integration of health and care, and the digital offer. 

Health and social care integration, and our Industrial Strategy

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

It was a delight to get out of the office on Tuesday and visit an exemplar of integration in health and care at the Samuel Johnson Hospital in Lichfield.  Claire Wood, the matron, was our host as we listened to NHS employees and adult social care workers operating together in a highly effective manner.  In essence, they had heeded the advice of somebody whom I worked for many years ago, namely sometimes it is easier to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission.  They had just got with working together, without worrying whether they worked for the NHS or the local authority.  Of course, there is no reason why they would have to ask for forgiveness, as they were doing the right things, but sometimes I think we worry about organisational structures too much.  The lesson for me is obvious; we all just need to concentrate on doing the right thing for our residents.

On a completely different track, I spent Thursday morning with members of the Local Enterprise Partnership – business people, academics, politicians and civil servants as well as local government officers –  working out what Staffordshire and Stoke’s Local Industrial Strategy will look like.  This is not merely an academic exercise; after Brexit, the EU funding to the county will stop and will be replaced by our proportion of the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.  Although the details are yet to be confirmed, it is almost certain that our share will be at least partly dictated by how compelling our strategy is.  It’s therefore worth us taking a lot of interest in it.

Our Strategy, and good news for Staffordshire families

Monday, April 9th, 2018


I wanted to make sure that you had all had a chance to familiarise yourselves with the Plan on a Page, the short version of the council’s Strategy.  We have now linked this firmly to our Delivery Plan, which many of you have been involved in. I’m enormously grateful to everybody who has made this a reality.

Many of you will hopefully remember our efforts in the past 2 years to link the Delivery Plan to our medium term financial strategy (MTFS), which we have now achieved. This allows us to align responsibility, accountability and authority, a theme that many of you will have heard me banging on about.  This year, the Delivery Plan is more focussed with only 23 activities, covering the major change programmes. I’m now content that we’ve got Business As Usual (BAU) running well, and I’m happy for that to be covered in Directorate and Team Plans.

The reinforced link to the strategy is however new, and this is what I’d like you to take a little bit of time to read and understand if you haven’t already. Look out for a toolkit in the coming weeks that will help managers and teams talk about the strategy in more detail, and what it means for their day to day work. It will include an interactive version of the plan on a page and other information to make sure our strategy is something that continually guides what we are doing, rather than sitting on a shelf gathering dust

There are two pieces of good news which I’d like to share with you. Our Building Resilient Families and Communities has been awarded Earned Autonomy status. What this means is that we get £5m of government funding up front (in the past we have received payment from Government based on results) so we can develop our work further and faster. The feedback on the quality of the application and on the work that we’re doing in Staffordshire has been effusive. Simply put, Mick Harrison, Barbara Hine and the team are achieving great results for the most troubled families in our county, and, with Earned Autonomy, we can do more.

Secondly, the results of the uptake on the Government’s initiative to provide 30 hours of free childcare have been published, showing that more than 6,000 families in Staffordshire are enjoying this excellent opportunity. This is the highest total in the West Midlands, which means that more families are able to access work and study, and enjoy a better quality of life. The innovative approach undertaken by Laura Ballinger, Matt Biggs and our team to include employers as well as families and providers is clearly working, which is great news indeed.