Councillor CRM, Kirklees Democracy, Process Consultant — fpsd#6

Freelance Public Servant Diary #6

Work Wise

Following the local elections last week, yesterday was induction day for our councillors. The approach taken (across Wales I think) was to provide a ‘market place’ of stalls for councillors to engage informally with different services.

The scrutiny team went to the market place armed with clipboards and pens and interviewed as many councillors as they could find. What we want to do is build a ‘CRM database’ for our scrutiny councillors so we have a clear inderstanding of their individual needs and interests — the idea being that we can use this to tailor support to each councillor and suggest topics based on issues that councillors care about.

This is an approach we have been thinking about since visiting the Welsh Assembly earlier in the year. They have some really interesting practice in terms of induction — and for much else besides!

Democracy

The big news this week was the excellent Kirklees Council debate following the publication of their democracy commission report. If you like this sort of thing (and I do) then it’s well worth having a read of the report or a watch of the debate here.

It was great to see an actual debate in a council meeting with the normal rules of party politics absent. It was also great to see input from the Youth Councillors — I think introducing new voices into council meetings is a good thing in general and has the potential to encourage greater public engagement. Well done all at Kirklees for the debate and the commission itself.

I’m also keeping a close eye on those good people at Democracy Club as they throw themselves at the general election — good luck guys!

Transition to Freelance

As mentioned I’ve been thinking a lot about solution focus as the working method I want to adopt as an independent consultant. Following the training I did a couple of weeks ago I’ve been doing some reading about organisational applications — principally the work of Dr Mark McKergow.

One of the things I’ve picked up on is the different models of consultancy that you can choose from. I fact these apply equally well to management and supervison I guess.

Expert — you bring general advice based on your knowledge and experience and what what has worked elsewhere.

Doctor — through careful questioning you diagnose client problems and prescribe possible tailored remedies to try based on expertise.

Process Consultant — assumes that the client has the answers they need but needs some help to get there — works alongside the client to make progress towards what the client wants.

A solutions focus assumes that the client is the expert in their own world, that every case is unique and that understanding the problem is not necessary for finding solutions. It fits very well, therefore, with the process consultant model — bringing tools and techniques that help facilitate progress but not off-the-shelf answers.

For me this also fits very well with the idea of ‘being-an-expert-in-not-being-an-expert’ that I’ve been thinking about for a while. The skills implied by this are listening, noticing, facilitating and collaborating. None of this is easy of course.

Stuff I’ve Been Reading

Thanks to Anthony Zacharzewski I saw this really interesting piece of work — the Camden Commission is essentially an inquiry into what can be done to promote the future wellbeing of the borough — should be of interest to anyone in Wales working on Wellbeing Plans

This post by Joe Mitchell over at Democracy Club is a great discussion of the very practical things they are doing around digital and democracy.

OK, not reading exactly, but if you like polling stations you will love this.