This Blog was kindly written and contributed by Martin Middleton, Business Improvement and Change Manager, Cheshire East Council.
As a recently-appointed Business Improvement & Change Manager I was keen to find out what other organisations in the North West are doing, particularly around leadership, vision, collaboration and stakeholder engagement. I found this iNetwork event on 19th May – “Leading Change with Vision and Innovation” – both stimulating and thought-provoking, with a good mix of behavioural management theory from the experts and some practical examples of its application from ‘real people’ (like you and me). I was particularly interested in the COM-B model and the Behaviour Wheel, and how Greater Manchester Police are adopting that model to understand their officer behaviour. I look forward to finding out how they get on and what they do with the results. The Colour Works presentation around personality preferences also resonated with me and is something I will take back and use in my own organisation.
I could see a number of common themes emerging on the day. Organisations need to be clear in what they are seeking to achieve and give a very strong narrative about why those changes are essential; good, early and regular communication is vital in explaining what will happen and then bringing people along with you. The positive contribution that good story-telling skills can make was promoted. Building a collective understanding across organisational boundaries is also important, and change leaders need to be brave, confident and, most of all, trusting with their partners, staff and the people they serve.
None of this is easy, nor will it happen without some dedicated and focussed resource. The value of ‘change champions’ was mentioned more than once, and at Cheshire East Council we have invested in a number of complimentary initiatives – Lean systems, coaching, creative thinking, Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and change management – to build in this capacity. An internal network is already cross-fertilising knowledge throughout the organisation, and a Connected Leadership model is also helping us co-ordinate those efforts towards our key strategic goals and provide change momentum. I look forward to the possibilities of extending our network of champions beyond organisational boundaries.
The sessions were collaborative, pragmatic and delivered with passion, and I got a sense of a wider public service community and collective learning in practice from the room. The impressive historic Cunard Building venue and the delicious lunch that was laid only added to the feeling of a day well spent and in good company.