“What can we do to hold on to collaboration?”
Your Agenda, Your Discussions: Part of a series of posts written by the Directors’ Network, supported by One Team Gov and the Cabinet Office’s Collective Leadership Team.
We’re writing this blogpost to continue our series on growing the community of Directors committed to collective leadership, co-creation and building cultures that support collaboration.
You can find out more about this work here:
Civil Service Directors' Network - our goals for 2020
On behalf of the director community, Kate Josephs sets out how the Civil Service Directors' Network, formed last year…
Leading public services has always been tough — we have to tackle complex societal issues which no single organisation can face alone. As public sector leaders, Directors are the forefront of this, wrestling with the systemic and interrelated nature of many issues.
We’re in a fast moving and connected world. We are striving to demonstrate creativity, collaboration, and connection in leadership, whilst under immense pressure. We are exploring new approaches to help us tackle complex problems — embracing human connection and the unknown during these tough times.
We had our third breakfast call, it was a very simple way of bringing a diverse range of views together to create change. The agenda was not set in advance; instead, it was generated by us and what we felt passionate about.
A participant-led discussion:
- Using a Google Doc, we anonymously proposed a topic for discussion,
- We used “dot voting” to prioritise the discussions based on what we wanted to talk about, and
- We then discussed the highest voted topics.
It was great to welcome new people to the discussion this week; we enjoyed splitting into virtual breakout rooms for group discussions on each topic before regrouping to share the highlights.
Below is a summary of our discussions.
Topic 1: How can we use the COVID-19 experience as a springboard to make lasting changes to how we work?
We value how we’re operating right now — we are working across organisational boundaries in a way we haven’t done before. We reflected how delivery to citizens has been placed at the heart of what we do, and how professions are being more humble about their roles.
We’ve noticed that this time is enabling us to focus on how we work — operating at pace, making quicker decisions, prioritising what is important — rather than where we work.
We discussed how areas of the Civil Service are managing to prioritise and stop doing things during this period (a difficult feat!), which is reassuring and uplifting. We know we need to start getting clearer about the problems we are trying to solve.
We discussed how working at home isn’t working for everyone and it is affecting our wellbeing. How do we consciously make space for this?
We reflected on how we find the democratisation of conversations liberating — an environment where we are much less defined by grade! How can we find the energy for people who want to talk across boundaries and organisations?
Topic 2: What can we do to hold on to collaboration?
Now that people have a bit more space, they are starting to think about their own teams. We are seeing some people revert to old, less collaborative behaviours that were prevailing at the start of the crisis. Some have noticed that teams are tending to gather with their own areas and that informal communication across boundaries is slipping away.
We want to show there is a better way of doing things in the Civil Service — there are new, better possibilities for us! We are capable of change when we free ourselves of our own constraints.
We are trying to be mindful about our behaviours and role model how we create and maintain a collaborative culture. We’ve observed that the incentives within the system seem to drive us back into siloes and reinforce boundaries.
We know we need to keep a balance between our own teams and supporting other people. We’re actively encouraging our people to look around beyond their own boundaries and create solutions from where they’re sitting.
We’re still learning how to balance this!
We reflected on how it’s time to start meeting better. We are getting better at working online, and it’s driven by our curiosity.
We’ve enjoyed creating spaces for Directors to gather and hold conversations, online facilitation of these conversations has been really important.
This conversation led us onto discussing how we promote the work of this group.
The kind of change we need starts from within. Whatever your role or discipline — we believe everyone has a topic in them. All Directors from across the Civil Service are welcome to join the ‘Your Agenda, Your Discussions’ breakfast call.
The next call will be held on Thursday 14 May from 8.30–9.30am. We’ll be joined by Anna Randle, Chief Executive — Collaborate CIC, who will be sharing her insights on public sector leadership from collaborations with local government on tackling complex social challenges.
You can sign up using the link below:
'Your Agenda, Your Conversations' Director-led conversations
Eventbrite - Collective Leadership Team presents 'Your Agenda, Your Conversations' Director-led conversations …
We look forward to seeing you there!
Your Agenda, Your Discussions: Our journey navigating new terrain:
Your Agenda, Your Discussions: We weren’t having these conversations anywhere else!
Part of a series of posts written by the Civil Service Directors’ Network, supported by One Team Gov and the Cabinet…
Your Agenda, Your Discussions: Our journey navigating new terrain
By One Team Gov and the Directors’ Network
Exploring Future Leadership with the Directors’ Network: