Tuesday, 17 January 2017

i4a Independent Councillors Ways of Working

These values were directly copied from the Frome ways of working.  The town of Frome has had independent councillors for some years now and they have operated the council successfully without the need for any political party influence.  These ways of working have been agreed by i4a and their prospective councillors.  There was no dissent.

Five Core Values
Independence. We will each make up our own mind about each decision without reference to a shared dogma or ideology.
Integrity. Decisions will be made in an open and understandable manner. Information will be made available even when we make mistakes and everyone will have the opportunity to influence decisions.
Positivity. We will look for solutions, involving others in the discussions, not just describe problems.
Creativity. Use new, or borrowed, ideas from within the group and the wider community to refresh what we do and how we do it.
Respect. Understand that everyone has an equal voice and is worth listening to.

We will adhere to these values by challenging ourselves and each other to:

Avoid identifying ourselves so personally with a particular position that this in itself excludes constructive debate.

Being prepared to be swayed by the arguments of others and admitting mistakes.

Be willing and able to participate in rational debate leading to a conclusion.

Understand the value of constructive debate.

Accept that you win some, you lose some; it’s usually nothing personal and there’s really no point in taking defeats to heart.

Maintain confidentially where requested and agree when it will be expected.

Share leadership and responsibility and take time to communicate the intention of, and the approach to, the work we undertake.

Have confidence in, and adhere to, the mechanisms and processes of decision-making that we establish, accepting that the decisions of the majority are paramount.

Sustain an intention to involve each other and others rather than working in isolation.

Trust and have confidence and optimism in other people’s expertise, knowledge and intentions. Talk to each other not about each other.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

It's the process, not the people

We are due to go to the polls on May 4th 2017 to elect a new council. Many people will not vote because they believe that nothing can be changed; whatever happens they are ignored. There is good evidence that this is true. The council system has been “rigged”.

At it's simplest, the council consists of a group of professionals that deliver services and a group of councillors that advise and oversee these professionals, rather like non-executive directors. There are also other public bodies that oversee council business but not many of them have powers and those that do have very narrow and focussed power (e.g. Audit Scotland).

“Non-executive directors are expected to monitor and challenge the performance of the executive directors and the management, and to take a determined stand in the interests of the firm and its stakeholders.” (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/non-executive-director.html)

Do you know of any councillors that routinely act like the quote above, about non-exec. directors ?

Why is that?

Firstly, they only have a very short amount of time to help make decisions on very complex matters. They have no time to seek independent advice so that they can actually govern the council.

Secondly, they are more often than not embedded in a party system that requires them to “follow the party line”.

Thirdly, they have around 16,000 people that they represent. How is that supposed to work?

So the process that a councillor works within is fatally flawed. One of my passions though is process design. You may have noticed I have written a plethora of articles about digital transformation and indeed have spoken with the council about changing what they do many times.

However there is more bad news.

The council is a huge organisation with silos and many embedded and difficult working practices, that in my opinion, will take a lot of changing. Layered on top of that is a party political system that swings from one party to the next and back again. Each successive new administration rips out the good work of the last one and pillories them for their failures whilst, at the same time, ignoring the wishes of the electorate.

More bad news I am afraid. We cannot change the way the council works, only they can.

However what we can change are the councillors, on May the 4th 2017.

We can stop the constant bickering.

We can stop the silly, childish hectoring.

We can put in place truly independent councillors that care about the city of Aberdeen and their electorate above everything else.

We can give these independent councilors access to the best technology so they can be a truly disruptive force. rather like Amazon has been to the online shopping market or Airbnb to the hotel market place.

We can give these councillors a large community of experts within Aberdeen so that, when they need advice, they can get independent advice.