Solace Blog

As well as those used in the weekly Solace News email for members, 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.

The importance of public service values – 0

By Penny Thompson CBE, Senior independent leadership adviser and mentor; Independent Chair of Birmingham Safeguarding Children Board; Solace Associate.

Just over 40 years ago, I decided that public service was my destiny. I joined the recently formed Tower Hamlets Social Services to learn and practice Social Work, helping disadvantaged families and their children navigate their troubles and come out on top. I'd contemplated teaching but decided that my talents may not lie in inspiring students to love history as I did. Rather, I took the path that led me to try to improve the conditions in which children lived so that they could take advantage of their education and achieve potential and in turn, their aspirations. 

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English water market opening – what does it mean for the public sector? – 0

By James Cardwell-Moore, Commercial Director, Business Stream

The countdown is on to April 2017 when all organisations in England will be able to choose their water supplier. Changes are already taking place within the market as providers gear up for competition, such as our acquisition of Southern Water’s non-domestic customers. However, it’s clear that for many organisations the potential benefits of the new environment are not yet high on their agenda.

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Is Blockchain in the MASH for Local Government? – 0

By Ben Gilburt, Innovations Consultant, Sopra Steria

In their latest insight briefing, SOCITM posed the question, Blockchain technology: could it transform digital-enabled councils?

They urge councils and wider public sector authorities to follow developments around blockchain Distributed Ledger technologies with a view to experimenting with their potential use in the development of future service transformation plans.

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Global challenges need local responses – 0

By Kim Ryley, Chair of Solace in Business

The benefits of being networked

With over 11,000 members, based in 40 countries around the world, the USA-based International City Managers Association (ICMA) is the largest professional body of its kind. Solace has a long-standing Affiliation Agreement with ICMA (as we do with our sister associations in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand). We are active participants also int he new European City Managers network. 

The benefits for Solace members of these global links are significant and were amply demonstrated at the ICMA's recent 102nd Annual Conference in the United States. It was here that senior representatives from a wide range of countries in all five continents came together to share insights and stories about the forces driving change in local government worldwide.

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Awkward bedfellows and slippery concepts a.k.a. How to lead social change – 0

By Dr Henry Kippin, Executive Director of Collaborate, an independent CIC focusing on the thinking, culture and practice of cross-sector collaboration. Dr Kippin will be speaking at the Solace Summit 2016 discussion session 'Place-based leadership in a digital age'. 

This article was originally published by Clore Social Leadership on 6 September 2016 here

Leadership is a slippery concept. A verb, not a noun. A spirit, not a skillset. It is a term that is broad and deep enough to mean both everything and nothing. But there is no doubt that if leadership matters (as Richard Harries’s excellent paper suggests), then we need to strive to make sure that the concept can hold the weight we ascribe to it. This means we need to work on it.  

The concept of leadership development is becoming more tricky to grasp in line with the changing context around it. This throws up more questions than answers. But anyone OK with a degree of complexity and nuance should absolutely welcome that. Peoples’ lives are complex and multi-faceted, so why should we expect positively changing them to be any less so?

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Smart energy – doing more with less: The opportunity for local authorities – 0

By Sacha Deshmukh, Chief Executive, Smart Energy GB – the voice of the smart meter rollout

Local authorities across Great Britain are having to do more with less, and are starting to embrace the opportunities provided by smart technologies and digitisation to innovate in the way they deliver the services that local residents depend on.

One sector currently being transformed by digitisation and which is attracting increasing interest from local authorities is energy.

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Leadership across silos – 0

Everyone has leadership potential, and Graeme McDonald, Director of Solace, highlights some of the ways in which it can be developed.

(This article was originally published in Government Business)

What makes a great leader? There has often been a debate about the key traits that a good leader should have: knowledge, authenticity, drive, empathy, and even heroism for some.

We will have all experienced attempts at heroic styles of leadership – and while a hero may, on occasions, seem attractive – effective and sustainable leadership is less simplistic. The heroism of ‘great man theory’ is the earliest and perhaps most extreme example of trait leadership theory – that effective leaders share common personality characteristics, qualities that are innate and that leaders are therefore born and not made.

Some individual traits are of course helpful, but leadership is far more complex and not merely a gift. Heroes might have short-term benefits, but they are rarely contagious and quickly lose impact.

Whatever an individual’s personal characteristics, behaviour preferences or the organisational culture within which you operate, everyone’s leadership potential can be developed.

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Game Changer: Giving children the opportunity to lead a healthy and physically active life – 0

By Kathryn Howe, Marketing Manager - Public Sector, Sopra Steria

I started my local reading group a number of years ago and since then we’ve become good friends, so when I announced at our meeting the other night I’d spent the morning at a primary school, they were rather surprised. “You work for an IT company, don’t you?” Asked Katy. Not quite I thought, but I’ll save our digital transformation partner credentials for another conversation… I then got on to explain about how I’d had such an inspiring morning and about the strategic partnership with Widnes Vikings Rugby League Club, Halton Clinical Commissioning Group and Cheshire and Merseyside Women’s and Children’s Partnership Vanguard and how that had taken me to Weston Primary School in Runcorn for the launch of Game Changer, a programme with the ambition to make a significant impact in raising physical fitness and promoting healthy lifestyles in children and their families.

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Put your own lifejacket on first – 0

By Rob Kenyon, Director of Community Services, Thanet District Council and Solace Deputy Spokesperson on Digital Leadership

Does digital inclusion really matter?

We're about to embark on the next stage of the digital revolution with automation starting to be rolled out at scale. In the next few years, the focus on user experience and service design at the front end will be matched with the ability to automate complex processes behind the scenes making larger scale transformations of services quicker and cheaper. The technology is here now - it's just getting up a head of steam on the adoption curve. 

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Save cost – and make money – through innovative M&E procurement processes – 0

By Toby Heysham, Managing Director, Pinnacle Power 

More public sector organisations are starting to look at smarter, hassle-free and more innovative procurement processes – particularly when it comes to heating systems – not only in a bid to reduce build costs, but as a way to generate revenue.

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