“There is a perfect organisational structure out there, it’s just that since 1948 [NHS] we have not found it; perhaps we are just one more organisational change away!” Professor Jon Glasby
I am often asked by charities to work alongside their boards and senior teams to help develop their strategy. Reflecting on this here are 3 pithy pieces of advice.
Retain your sovereignty
The radical cuts to statutory services and the resultant effect on their purse strings, has meant that charities are invited to compete for ever diminishing resources. Too often I have witnessed charities putting together detailed bids for contracts which they should have walked away from on first analysis. The results of gaining an undesirable contract are significant; service failure, financial pain, reputational damage, being pulled out of shape to name but a few – advice:
Question if the contract is desirable
Avoid colluding with a race to the bottom
If it does not stack up don’t be afraid to walk away
Your charity is not a statutory sector dept, put aside any notion that they will look after your interests – retain your sovereignty it is a valuable asset
Take the initiative
Don’t be passive recipients, instead be well informed about the issues.
Engineer creative solutions
Seek to avoid best value bureaucratic processes, instead run pilot schemes, make them work and become irreplaceable
Value your memory
The statutory sector is a political football and as a result it suffers from persistent upheaval as it is charged with implementing untested ideas often without evidence base. This results in continual disorientation of services and those who work within them. Managers come and go at an alarming rate, their job titles change as do their priorities and the organogram pinned to the notice board no longer represents who they should be reporting to.
These large scale changes has served to fracture their understanding of the community they serve and the history of what has gone before. Rather like a ship trying to plot the coastline whilst caught up in a force 8 gale.
Charities have been much more stable entities and as such they have become the holders of the communal memory – advice:
Recognise & value this, don’t be shy to share your insights, do it assertively & become the conduit that joins together statutory sector thinking.