Solace Blog

Articles and blogs written or contributed to by Solace staff and Board members for external publications including the Guardian, Local Government Chronicle and Municipal Journal are republished for browsing on this page.

A number of these can be accessed through the Solace Guardian Public Leaders Network Partner Zone.

Use Your Energy to Stay Resilient – 0

By Claire Chidley, Solace Associate, Director of Create Tomorrow Today and author of Energy Intelligence - A New Leadership Theory, reflecting on the Solace Resilience Masterclass.

Resilience is the ‘in’ word in our sector. As soon as it crops up in a training course or conference title, there’s a lot of interest and the event sells out fast.

So what’s going on? Why should we be so interested by this topic? 

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Beyond robustness and resilience – 0

By Kylie Roberts, Director, Challenger Leadership, Grant Thornton UK LLP

I have recently been reading a book kindly passed on to me, called Antifragile, by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.  On the first page of this book, it reads 'Some things benefit from shocks; they thrive and grow when exposed to volatility, randomness, disorder, and stressors; and love adventure, risk and uncertainty.  Yet in spite of ubiquity of the phenomenon, there is no word for the exact opposite of fragile.  Let's call it antifragile.  And antifragility is beyond resilience or robustness'. 

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'Another fine mess' – 0

By Phil Norrey, Chief Executive of Devon County Council and Solace Spokesperson on Children and Families

As the smoke gently cleared on 6 May, the day after the mayoral, local government and police and crime commissioner elections, the Secretary of State for Education took the opportunity to make the not unexpected announcement of a change of approach in the relation to the key proposal contained in the White Paper ‘Excellence Everywhere’ in Education: namely the forced ‘Academisation’ of Local Authority maintained schools.

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An investment in a firm future – 0

By Trudy Birtwell, Head of Leadership and Organisational Development, Solace Group and Steve Guest, Head of Executive Recruitment and Assessment, Solace in Business

(This article was originally published by the MJ in the printed edition on 21 April 2016.)

VUCA, short for volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity, and a catchall for “Hey, it’s crazy out there!”  is an increasingly recognised acronym being used to describe the current environment in the public sector.  So how do those in or aspiring to leadership roles respond to such challenges?  How do you prepare to work in a “VUCA” world? On many of our development programmes, we have stopped using the phrases such as “ permaausterity”, “economic downturn” or “exceptional times” - this is the new normal.

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Better outcomes and better value: the promise of social impact bonds – 0

By Paul Riley, Executive Director - Strategic Developments and Partnerships at Core Assets

Every local authority wants to deliver better outcomes for its most vulnerable young people and adults. But in an era when budgets are under ever-greater pressure, and social challenges are getting ever more complex, is that a realistic aspiration?

Our experience with social impact bonds (SIBs) suggests it can be. 

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Will Social Investment be the new way of funding public services? – 0

By Helen Reeves, Senior Policy Officer, Solace

There is a growing focus from this government on identifying alternative sources of funding for public services, or to put it a different way, for funding schemes or projects that deliver specific social outcomes but through alternative non-state means.

Some see this project as ideological – retrenching the state, and letting either the private sector or civil society fill the gap where there is perceived to be one – and of course, on the whole, this is nothing new. We all know about outsourcing, ‘privatisation’ and private finance, and on the other hand we’ve all heard of the ‘Big Society’. 

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Nuts and their Sledgehammers – 0

By Steve Atkinson, Chief Executive, Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council and Solace Deputy Spokesperson on Evidence-based Policy

Control of the level of fees for processing planning applications, as you will know, is one of the last vestiges of centralisation (in form, if not reality) and Whitehall is reluctant to let it go. At some point, we might be granted the power to set fees locally; but there will remain significant constraints and the 'victory' of securing hard-won freedoms will be somewhat pyrrhic. We may win the battle, but lose our valued troops in the process.

So, what is going on here? In the majority of other cases, in the true spirit of decentralisation and devolution, councils have been allowed to set their own fees, based on local circumstances, demand and cost. Planning, however, seems to be a special case. Why?

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How can professional bodies support more joint working on the frontline? – 0

By Sophie Wilson, Researcher, the Institute for Government

This blog was originally publihsed on the Institute of Government's website

Public service reform is geared towards greater collaboration between services and better meeting citizens’ needs through a joined up, person-centred approach. The pressure on services to do this is growing, with the Government announcing plans for integration in areas such as health and social care by 2020. But while the importance of frontline practitioners in making this a reality is widely recognised, professional bodies tend to focus on just one group of practitioners, so it is not always clear whether they might reinforce silos or how they can help bring services together.

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Key Leadership Actions for Innovation: Latest findings from Solace Research Project – 0

By Joan Munro, Director, Accelerating Innovation in Local Government Research Project 

How can the political and managerial leaders in local councils achieve more major innovations faster? Over the past four years, we have conducted extensive research on this topic, including interviews and discussions with many chief executives and leading politicians, as well as many focus groups with middle managers and frontline employees.

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Scream if you want to go faster – 0

By Dr Martin Reeves, Chief Executive Coventry City Council & West Midlands Combined Authority and Solace Policy Spokesperson on Digital Leadership

I must be mad. Why on earth would I agree to take on the Chief Executive role for the fledgling West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), while at the same time continuing to be Chief Executive of Coventry City Council? 

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