That was the local government week that was

Our weekly top reads

Another week gone, and another week closer to Winterval 2012.  As ever, today we share some of the blogs which we have enjoyed over the past week.  Some of them may even interest you too…

Is teamwork obsolete?  Well, perhaps not, but this thought provoking piece from the New York Times poses this question as it explores how isolation and privacy may actually lead to creativity and innovation.

SOME teamwork is fine and offers a fun, stimulating, useful way to exchange ideas, manage information and build trust.

But it’s one thing to associate with a group in which each member works autonomously on his piece of the puzzle; it’s another to be corralled into endless meetings or conference calls conducted in offices that afford no respite from the noise and gaze of co-workers. Studies show that open-plan offices make workers hostile, insecure and distracted. They’re also more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, stress, the flu and exhaustion. And people whose work is interrupted make 50 percent more mistakes and take twice as long to finish it.

We’ve had a few things to say in the past on the merits or otherwise of council newspapers, but love them or hate them perhaps they aren’t as dead in the water as we though.  The excellent Comms2point0 blog (which you really should subscribe to by the way) went to the effort of pointing a few stats out for us.

44% of households still buy a daily newspaper.

Of the 2.940 articles from releases and enquiries mentioning Halton Borough Council in the past year 57% appeared in local papers and more if you count their websites.

Out of more than 833 enquires more than 72% came from the local press – and the resulting stories appeared in the papers or their websites.

Look through the news threads on Twitter – see how many link to stories originating from newspapers. I have yet to have one media enquiry from a blogger – although I would welcome them.

A quick post but a few headlines which may help you think through some other reasons why focussing on the structure chart when strategies stagnate may not be the smartest or only thing to do.

When a company struggles to execute on a strategy, all too often the first reaction is to redraw the organization chart. This is costly and often ineffective. Rather than tinker with structure and incentives, organizations should look at the inner workings of the company and pull more effective levers, such as decision rights, information flow, and motivators. We are so emphatic with our clients that “it’s not just about structure” that during a recent discussion with one CEO he asked, “You do address structure too, right?” We do, of course, but we believe it is only one component of what enables an organization to execute.

Who are your publics?  No, not a typo; in this post from @kellyQHicks she highlights some of the different types of public out there, along with why we should be looking to engge or address all of them.

In another well-worth-a-read blog post , Grunig points out that social media gives publics the freedom to identify themselves, rather than wait to be defined by an organisation’s self-interest. He suggests that organisations should engage all publics to the extent of available resources. If this ideal situation is not possible, publics should be prioritised “according to the impact the organisation has on them or the impact they have on the organisation  … [which] requires judgement both about social responsibility and about the strategic interests of the organisation.”

Via the Guardian, there’s good news and bad news about the state of play for the financial health of local government .

Perhaps surprisingly, given the sector’s initial reaction to the spending review and the scale of funding reductions required, local authorities have coped well so far. But though the message is positive, the challenges facing the sector remain significant and very real.

There has been some effective leadership from senior management and elected members who have not shied away from making some very difficult decisions. Yet the task ahead is to continue to make difficult financial decisions – the impact of which will not be easy for service users, staff and residents – while making further savings over the next three years.

Unfortunately it’s something we’ve been saying for a while – it’s going to get worse before it get’s less worse.  Chins up, all.

And a second from the good old Guardian, where this time the issue of the police spending £35,000 on the speaking clock is put into a little context.

Some examples: assuming everyone in the Met drinks two cups of tea per shift, the force’s annual bill on teabags alone will top £65,000. Allowing a modest four toilet rolls per year per officer gives a yearly bill of £34,000+. I’d keep going, but we may need to save some of these for a boost on a slow news day.

If you detected a (substantial) dollop of sarcasm above, congratulations. There’s no doubt spending £35,000 on calls to the speaking clock, in an age where every mobile phone and PC constantly displays the time, seems ridiculous. But the number perhaps warrants closer examination.

The key issue, as hinted at in the (somewhat facetious) examples above, is that the Metropolitan Police is a huge organisation: it has more than 35,000 officers and PSCOs, plus more than 13,000 civilian staff. Even trivial amounts of spending per officer quickly adds up.

And it would be remiss of us to not mention #UKGC12, or UK Gov Camp for those who aren’t in the know.  An unconference bringing together some of the best and brightest minds looking at whatever interests them such as digital engagement, innovation and even plain old policy development.  Of course, with at least one member of the WLLG crew also in attendance it’s not only the brightest but also mere mortals taking part…

Have a good weekend!

Welovelocalgovernment is a blog written by UK local government officers. If you have a piece you’d like to submit or any comments you’d like to make please drop us a line

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