Posted tagged ‘preparation’

Snow trouble is c-old news

February 6, 2012

No app, but there is a digital map...

What a difference a few years makes. It seems so long and so little time ago that we wrote a piece after the cold snap at the end of 2010, when parts of the country had ground to a halt after an inch or two of snow fell and local government appeared to sit back and rest on its collective laurels.

At the time we called for councils up and down the country to take a little time to think about what had happened and perhaps review the things that went right and wrong and see if there were steps which could be taken to deal with it better next time round. We’d like to think therefore that we are entirely to be given credit for what’s happened recently (although in reality we accept that perhaps others had the same idea as us).

And what may these ideas have been? Well, fast forward just under fourteen months and Britain once again (shock horror) finds itself under snow in winter, and do you know what? It looks like town hall types took our advice and had a good think about what happened. Plans were drawn up, grit ordered and stockpiled and comms plans prepared, resulting in a far, far improved response in 2012.
The media, local or national, are often first in the queue to bash local government when things don’t go to plan. However, this time around I think on the whole things have gone very well. A combination of better preparation and better communication have borne fruit, with not only roads gritted but people more aware of this fact via judicial use of a range of tools, including digital. This has managed expectations better than ever before; I’ve spoken to people about gritted roads and actually heard them mention the words ‘arterial route’ without prompting. (more…)

‘Meeting’ the challenge

January 26, 2012

On the way to a meeting?

I’m not sure if hit US TV show the West Wing quite counts as ‘retro’ yet but either way it certainly was unexpected when it popped into my mind on the way to my fifth meeting of the day.

The scene that sprang to mind was one where the hyperactive Deputy Chief of Staff, Josh Lyman, is scheduled for an early morning meeting with someone from NASA. He goes to meeting under duress from his ever faithful assistant Donna and does his best to get out of there as quick as he can. When confronted about his lack of interest in the meeting he lays a little bit of intellectual smack down on the poor NASA administrator before commenting:

I prepare even for meetings I don’t want to go to. I wasn’t improvising. You guys are lost in space.

If we forget the awful space pun (Aaron Sorkin on an off day me thinks) the rest of his comment really resonates with me.

Ask yourself this question: How many times have you had a busy week and thought to yourself, I’ll just skip reading the papers for that meeting and work it out as I go? I know I’ve done it and I can state with cast iron certainty that nearly every single person I have sat in a meeting with has also done so at one time or another. Indeed, I have heard one manager tell me that she didn’t have time to read the papers for a meeting because she had real work to do.


Let’s talk about snow!

October 6, 2011

Slip up now and we'll slip up later

As the hot, summer sun beat down over the weekend just gone, with a cool beer in my hand and covered in factor 50, I began to think about snow.

That’s right, snow. Despite basking in record breaking temperatures and ending up with sunburnt feet, it was all I could do not to keep remembering that it was October, despite appearances, and if predictions are to be believed it is only a matter of weeks before our ice creams stop melting and the snow starts to fall.

‘Nonsense,’ I hear you cry, ‘tis months away and we have plenty of time to prepare. In fact, as it’s so warm now it’ll probably be a mild winter anyway and the gritters can stay in the garage.’ It is then that I remind you of the fable of the ant and the grasshopper.

Essentially, it boils down to the five ‘Ps’: Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance. Now is exactly the time for councils up and down the country to be doling out the grit, which is precisely what some have begun to do. Plymouth and Sutton amongst others have already got on the case by preparing the snow ploughs and offering free grit to residents, with more hopefully following soon with plans of their own.  But is it worth doing yet? (more…)