13 Years of leaving Customers Better Equipped

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Alpine is celebrating 11 years of leaving our clients better equipped through intelligent resourcing. As part of our Workforce and Leadership Elevenses Series of opinion pieces, Ruby Dixon of Alpine, shares her reflections of her recent Solace master class and ET inspiration of Sir Chris Hoy.

Everyday Inspiration: from IT to ET

It is not every day that you get to meet Sir Chris Hoy, the greatest Olympian of our age, but it was a treat for participants of the Solace Master class, held alongside the Civica Summit in Manchester. Hoy’s personal story could be that of any champion of public service.

His central premise that inspiration is the catalyst to our goals – and we need goals to reach our potential – owes much to ET, a second hand bike and a council-installed BMX track. Cycling became his passion; a coach dared him to dream and he put a strategy and action plan in place to make it happen. The rest, they say, is history.

There is so much councils can learn from his approach. This is how leaders develop and transformation is achieved. An impossible challenge becomes doable with small step, which in themselves represent big strides forward.

The transformation of the GB cycling team required a clear strategy (aggregate marginal returns), clear goals, clarity and the contribution of each role to create a high performing team.

In this context, innovation comes through performance – and this even included recovery. Fascinatingly, when everyone has the best bike technology can build, innovations such as personal fold-able mattresses (moulded to each individual rider’s body) improved the quality of sleep when cyclists were travelling.

There were also innovations in culture: the use of psychologists as standard (instead of stigma) heralded a new approach to dealing with pressure in uncertainty. I likened this to neuro-linguistic programming (see Change your Life with NLP by Lindsay Agnees) which help us understand that we can’t control events but we can control how we deal with them. Hoy moved from blanking competitors out of his thoughts to active visualisation of how he could respond when they put him under pressure.

How much of this would be relevant in the Solace digital master class? The answer is quite a lot. Dr. Catherine Howe (http://www.public-i.info) presented a sociological perspective on the ‘Seven tribes of digital’ and their different cultures. A key challenge is to get them to communicate and collaborate (aggregated returns), so that councils in particular achieve the digital vision (dream) not just a channel-shift strategy.

Jamie Whyte (Trafford Innovation and Intelligence Lab) shared his view on the power of data innovations that can reduce demand, re-imagine services, improve understanding of citizens and the locality, and boost the local economy. For me the key to unlocking data is in visualisation or presenting data in a way that is relevant to citizens and providers. That way they can actively engage with, and prevent issues, rather than not think about their root causes e.g. low take up of cervical cancer, or sporting need (https://traffordinnovationlab.wordpress.com/author/ciljamie/).

Merran McRae Chief Executive of Calderdale (http://www.calderdale.gov.uk/) gave a view from (Hebden) bridge, and echoed Hoy’s advice not to keep doing the same thing in a changing world. She argued for ‘cohesion through complexity’ and management of uncertainty rather than change. Today’s public leaders cannot know everything ‘digital’ because it is iterative, and data is huge so they’ll have to be content to know enough, and develop a devolved leadership style. The council’s workforce programme builds capacity and new ways of working. This chimed with Hoy’s top tip of being open to a new generation of talent and workforce succession.

For him, each day and event brought different challenges so it was focus on the basics, and being motivated to do the best you can in the face of adversity. For anyone working in the public sector today, how inspirational is that?

Ruby Dixon is Head of Local Government at Alpine. You can contact her at: rdixon@alpine.eu.com or on 02034 781345.


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