Tuesday, 16 November 2010


I spent the day in London at the Guardian Social Enterprise Summit...

The conference was sub-titled 'Th key to Big Society? Scaling up social enterprises to deliver public services'. The event comes at a particularly interesting time for pubic services who are facing the cuts announced in the comprehensive spending review. The Government has also made it clear that they expect social enterprise, volunteering and the Big Society to help fill the gaps.

The conference ran late, was poorly organised and felt very flat but for me the highlights were inputs by Lord Victor Adebowale, Chief Executive of Turning Point, Mervyn Wilson, Chief Executive and Principal of the Co-operative College, Nick Hurd MP, Minister for Civil Society, and Andrew Lansley, Secretary of State for Health.

Victor Adebowale talked about Turning Point and the need to be good rather than big and that the key is to find out what works and do it again and again tweaked for the new contexts. Mervyn Wilson talked about the collaborative culture and spirit of enterprise that characterises the co-operative approach to delivering education which now reaches over 100 schools across the country. Nick Hurd MP talked about fairer approaches to grow the market and the opportunities for social investment and the importance of encouraging intelligent investment in social enterprise.

Andrew Lansley MP talked about the importance of ownership, engagement and empowerment at the heart of successful organisations. He stressed that trust and respect strengthen bonds and relationships within organisations and that top down micro-management and bureaucracy simply don't work. He believes that independence and freedom unleashes creativity and enterprise and that diversity and plurality should be at the heart of the development of new models within the health service. He argued that innovation and social enterprise provide proven and successful models for delivering change and growth.

Everyone was talking about ‘savage and horrendous cuts’ to all our budgets to balance the budget deficit the country currently faces. We clearly need to work smarter, better, more closely and be more efficient and effective in everything we do. We all know that public services can and must deliver excellent, outstanding and brilliant services to the children, young people, families, citizens and communities we all serve. We need to think differently, think creatively and imaginatively and connect and use all our resources better. We need to look at how we can develop trust and empower communities and think family. We need to encourage and support more social enterprise, more volunteering, more use of the third sector, more use of public companies and more focus on shared responsibilities and community engagement.

1 comment:

John said...

One thing that is very important for us to look at I believe in relation to operating on lower budgets is just how we organise our organisations by really ensuring we can work smarter, thinner and much more effectively. I believe we need to limit programmes and intiatives that require labour intensive investment and deliver clear and excellent services. One thing I know is so important is continual development training for all staff to ensure that organisations change and continually change to meet changing demands. I know we work in a very different working climate here in Sweden Chris but organisations have really learnt to become slim and effective. There could be some real gains by more people having a good look at how organisations manage to deliver services at a high quality level with much less staff (not that labour costs are the only issues)