Services must come before structures
Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire have a history of working together. We’ve now agreed a memorandum of understanding which will require a must-do look at bi and tri lateral solutions to the downsizing.
Each CEO acts as lead commissioner on three existing workstreams - children’s, adults and assets. My role is to ensure the three adults teams deliver against four current workstreams, social inclusion for LD/MI users, adult placement, combined equipment and telecare, and a combined autism service.
Each workstream has a lead commissioner on behalf of all three organisations. I’m encouraged by the enthusiasm with which lead officers are embracing the opportunity to work across a larger geographical footprint.
This is neither complicated nor new. It is challenging us to forge new loyalties beyond our own organisation or professional grouping. We’ve not gone for clunky structures and traditional shared officer brandings. Rather we’re focussing on the services and see where redesign takes us.
My suspicion is that we’ll end up four to five years ahead with a mixed economy and mixed geography for solutions for individual functions and activities. Each authority will identify an increasing budget line year on year to demonstrate the efficiency savings gained by working in this way. All services ultimately will be considered.
As an officer, to work in this way will require a shift outside the comfort zones of organisational hierarchy. It demands a loyalty to an extended population with needs which transcend our own horizons, but more accurately reflects the way people live their lives.
As a member, this challenges traditional models of governance. Whilst we have a clear political appetite for pursuing this way of working, it should not be underestimated how members will needs to be willing to let go.
Should we necessarily worry about organisational integrity? Does such concern fly in the face of the real job about getting the best for our communities of need within a geography readily understood by local people? Our obsessions with the importance of our own organisations are not shared by the public.
Jim Graham, chief executive, Warwickshire County Council