Archive | August, 2011

Conflict and economic crisis: where are the leaders?

26 Aug

Lets hope the Libyans continue to be brave and humane and welcome women into their new government. While the Arab Spring continues leaders in western democracies are unable to find a solution to collapsing international markets, the banks or come up

with new forms of financial government and or regulation. The macho culture of the city and banking has not prepared its staff for the sort of reflection and creative problem solving required to transform the financial systems.  – what they have learnt to do is play the market not ensure good governance. Yet, western governments expect other countries and local authorities to transform their practices  and to persuade local people of the need for austerity measures for the general good.  Many local authorities are continuing to do this, it is interesting that how they act as leaders has changed, most are now orchestrators and extremely collaborative. Smaller cities such as York, Bristol and Swindon in particular have become less tribal in their decision-making and are run by intelligent and agile political and executive leaders who are developing new approaches to governance and socializing business in the process.

The question is where are the equivalent leaders in the banks and in governments? If the markets collapse it may result in more than a double-dip recession where the psychology of fear results in panic among the rich as well as the poor. Smaller countries will collapse where there is little governance and the heavy hand of the IMF, only creative countries such as Iceland where the resource of the people is valued can survive such chaos. You cannot but feel that international leaders are equally squeezed – Obama is trapped by the Tea Party and Angela Merkel by the German electorate who are unwilling to support any more EU countries, In England, it appears politicians are more influenced by the media and the press than by balancing the interests of people  against the interests of international markets .

There is a vacuum of political leadership in the West – and we have become lazy about democracy in the UK.  We expect other countries to forge democracies overnight but have no idea how to nurture democratic relationships in the UK.  Commentators in the Broadsheets are liberal and advocates of governance and human-rights but so removed from the realities of life outside of London that they often perpetuate myths – there is a need to debate how we achieve a new forms of governance which are less managerial and more active. Democracy is not only about voting but about creating a better society.  Being able to participate in debate about things that matter rather than people’s sex lives is crucial – there are emerging new forms of governance developing quietly at the local level . Local political leaders are becoming less managerial and more starting to talk about socializing business as well as transforming the public sector.

National leaders could learn a thing or two from community leaders and those working in locality partnerships.


Localism, leadership and LEPS

16 Aug

The Localism bill present real opportunities for commmunities already organised – in other places the Localism Bill could end up merely giving developers more rights than communities. Like all things, oppoortunities have to be seized by local leaders. Local leadership is becoming more, not less, important in protecting local governance and communities and encouraging social business not just business.

Innovation strategies need to be closely aligned to local regeneration and revival strategies that address inequalites and SME exclusion, as well as business growth. Local democracy is easily lost and hard won. LEP and partnership leaders are struggling to find their feet and some are racing ahead because of existing leadership relationships across sectors. An inspiring theatre director or social enterprise entreprenur can inject energy into meetings which were previously dominated by ‘institutional suits’. Often the barriers to change are not bad people but institutional walls and complacent leadership.

Somee local leaders is becoming more strategic and communicating more with those previously excluded from leadership decisions, in commmunity organisations, arts organisations and SMES, recogniding that open governance is not a matter of a new model but a matter of leaders changing their own practice, of collaborating and asking questions rather than assuming solutions to age-old problems of anti-social behaviour, crime and poor health. We need to value the innovators we have in Britain as well as importing New York police chiefs. Strathcyde has its own innovator in Kathrn McCLusky who pioneered ‘call-out’ with Glasgow gangs and reduced the murder rate by 50%. This is not to say that innovative ideas cannot be found in other countries and cities, clearly they can but they are best imported by champions who are going to implement new adaptations better matched to local conditions and people.

The riots are generating tired reactions – imprisoning people who need a life not a life sentence is not justice. Imprisoning, first offenders and kids doesn’t make me feel any more confident that rioting will cease. Recovery innovations aimed at helping people regain their lives and recover self-respect, are was neither ‘soft’ or tough options, we need to challenge the press and politicians, who like Cameron continue to label significant recovery activities rather than analysing them and talking to the people who could put them into practice. The public are frustrated by simplist pap.

In the UK we find reflection hard and are apologetic about humane behaviour, neither are we good at being strategic and practical at the same time and lurch between following experts and ignoring them, this is not intelligent. Similarly, the easy polarisation between social engineering and the reduced state is unhelpful, governance is even more needed if we are to create the conditions for business growth and a healthy society. Some in smaller cities are recognising the need for a new local governance umbrellas that prioritise building lcoal capacities as well as business and for shared leadership strategies that value social capital as well as the bottom line.

Robin Hambleton and I are currrently Working up a research proposal to track where local leaders are working towards more open governance through collaborative and transformative leadership with the support of local leaders and chief executives in York, Wakefield, Swindon and Bristol and interested to hear from others engaged in place-based systemic innovation.

Read John Thackera’s blog who says ‘Lets focus on emerging alternatives comrades’

happy holidays!!!