New Model Council


Well, this is spooky. I just got done with a post about what the council looks like to our customers, and the following challenge appears in my Yammer inbox – copied in to a bunch of colleagues I like to refer to as “the usual suspects”.

Leadership Team have asked for groups of people to self organise and create rapid prototypes of what they believe symbolises how the council will be in the future.

The usual suspects are the early adopters, the lightning rods, the lively visible and audible faces of innovation in our organisation. They’re not the only ones, of course, but they are a perfect example of the type. I suspect more than one of them of being secret jargonauts.

So what about this challenge, then? Apparently we can convey our models using any medium. Lego, sticky-backed plastic, interpretive dance …

We have an opportunity to each explain what we think our organisation should look like. My model will of course be an exercise in articulating the bleeding obvious, while my esteemed colleagues will certainly show more sophistication and analytical thinking. All paths are valid here.

Here are my thoughts so far; each county council function comes under one of the following categories, which are based on the requirements of the customer at the point of contact.

– “Help me”
– “Support me”
– “Fund me”
– “Tell me”
– “Hear me”

Quite simplistic so far, and I’d like to keep it that way if I can.

“Help me” covers crisis situations: safeguarding, social care, elder care, catastrophic life events where intervention is needed.

“Support me” includes all those services that keep people safe, active and independent – so roads, transport, public health, education, economic development … I’m sure there are more we can add but you get the general idea.

“Tell me” encompasses FoI requests, information about services and how to access them, open data, all the things that could be prefaced with the words “I want to know …”.

“Hear me” is about how we deal with incoming information. Obviously it’s about complaints and feedback, but here I’m also including reporting of faults (potholes, for example) and suggestions for things we could get involved in. The dreaded engagement probably fits here too. We’re rubbish at this, and we need to get better.

That just leaves “Fund me”. As an organisation we are trying to get away from funnelling large grants to the community and voluntary sector, and rather to commission them to do specific time-limit projects with tightly controlled aims and measurable objectives. What I think we need to consider, as resources get ever more scarce, is that small organisations are much better placed to deliver projects that really work for not very much money at all. Rather than interfering and taking charge of these, or reverse-engineering a specification and commissioning someone else to do it, we might want to look at where really useful projects are springing up, and bunging them a few quid to keep them in business. Or working with them to keep those things happening, without restructuring the whole thing in our own image.

I’m not talking about commissioning big services here; I don’t mean the contract for Children’s Services or Highways Maintenance. Those are covered above. I’m talking about youth clubs, memory cafes, community shops, school dinners, snow wardens, verge planting. Things the community could and should put together in the way that suits them best. I’m sure there must be a hundred more examples, so let’s hear them.

So I think this very compact little model covers everything from a customer’s point of view. If I’ve missed anything crucial, leave me a comment and I’ll add it. What I need to work on now is how customers make their needs or views known under each category, as we move towards more digital means of communication. Is it going to be appropriate in each case? Will it work for everyone? How do we set up the channels, the support, the technology to make it so?

If anyone has any ideas, I’ll be just over here with the Lego box. Feel free to join me.



About jargonaut

Unashamed geek lost in policy land. Frequently required to believe three impossible things before breakfast, and implement them by tea time.
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One Response to New Model Council

  1. Pingback: The predicament of patients | Lost in policy

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