iESE helps Scottish council push forward radical changes

Published on 25/01/21 | Sharing best practice in local government

iESE has a range of tools to help local authorities with transformation. One is the Innovation Mandate, which at its core is a workshop hosted by iESE with senior management and elected members to help objectively judge where an organisation is in its change programme, what the next step might be and what a radical alternative might look like.

“The model that provides the framework for the Innovation Mandate is based upon extensive research across the UK and other countries, not only of what transformation has been achieved but where the sector will be in 5 years’ time” explained Dr Andrew Larner, Chief Executive of iESE.

One council which has benefitted from the Innovation Mandate is Clackmannanshire Council. The Scottish local authority undertook the process with iESE in 2019 funded by The Improvement Service, an organisation which assists local authorities in Scotland.

Nikki Bridle, Chief Executive of Clackmannanshire Council, explained that the Council was working with The Improvement Service to establish capacity to support the delivery of its transformation plans and was put in touch with iESE. She said the Innovation Mandate tool, which helps define the change agenda and assists senior management and members with gaining a common understanding of the challenges faced, came along at exactly the right time. “I think the Innovation Mandate worked for us because the timing was perfect. It helped stimulate and challenge thinking at the right time,” she explained.

The Chief Executive said that when she came into the post in 2018, an early priority was to develop an integrated transformational change programme to avoid a perpetuation of ‘salami slicing’ budgets to maintain financial sustainability and, more importantly, to empower local people, service users and communities in how services are delivered.  The aim has been to establish a strong and ambitious shared vision for transformation working collaboratively with elected members, managers and partners which places communities at the heart of local decision making and service delivery.

The Innovation Mandate helped senior managers and members to really articulate the Council’s collective ambition for the future. “At the heart of the Innovation Mandate is really a clear challenge to the organisation’s appetite for change and risk – are you simply going to do what you are already doing, but better; are you going to do what you are already doing but in a different way, or are you going to do something that hasn’t been done before or do it in a way that hasn’t been done before i.e. be truly innovative?

“The Innovation Mandate approach provided us with a framework to consider our emerging transformation plan and challenge how innovative and transformational they really were. This was done in member and officer workshops, working together. It provided space for us to step back and challenge our own thinking, facilitated and supported by our iESE facilitators. One particularly helpful aspect was that by having these discussions on a cross-party basis with elected members, we could work in a truly collaborative way.”

In parallel with the work with iESE, the Council’s Be the Future Programme was developed and subsequently launched at the start of 2020. The Be the Future Programme has three key Transformation themes: sustainable inclusive growth, empowering families and communities and health and wellbeing. Over time this plan aims to embed new collaborative and empowering models of public service delivery in Clackmannanshire. Whilst responding to the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted aspects of planned work, the Council has continued to make positive progress with its ambitious plans, including developing its initiatives with the Scottish Government and Centre for Local Economic Strategies on the wellbeing economy and community wealth building respectively, for which the Council Leader is corporate sponsor.

“My personal experience is that iESE has worked with us very flexibly. I had clear ideas going into our work and iESE has worked with me to tailor the approach to what I was trying to achieve. My sense was that they had bought into the agenda as well, bringing many examples from their work with other councils to assist us,” Ms Bridle added.

To find out more about the Innovation Mandate, click on the button below.

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