In this video (submitted to a OneTeamGov call for submissions for microcourses on collaborative leadership and published here) I talk about what I think I have learned about how to approach collaboration. Id love to hear what you think:)

Effective collaboration doesn’t happen by accident — and often the conditions that determine success or otherwise are deeply personal. They are about how we as people approach the prospect of collaboration and this often requires us to challenge ourselves and the way we have been working — often for whole careers.

I’m interested in three things that help set the conditions…

Photo by Jordan Heath on Unsplash

Thinking about how we think about COVID.

How do we look beyond the immediate problems in front of us as the COVID response develops? How can we develop a genuine shared national (and international) campaign to prevent, deal with and mitigate the effects of COVID, and move away from what feels like a series of local responses to events?

This article is a sort of sister article to one I wrote in February on the COVID ‘deep battle’ — I’ve been reflecting in that earlier post and trying to work out how I could share some similar ideas, but framed in a different way.

So I’ve recast this to look more widely at the issue of ‘thinking about how we think’ about COVID — and sharing some frameworks that I think could open up our approach to this challenge and maybe promote a bit of innovation. I’d welcome feedback :)

The military has frameworks to help thinking about strategy…

Image from Dan Myers via Unsplash

How can we campaign, and not just respond?

The military has frameworks to help thinking about strategy, operations and execution. Lots of frameworks. Having been schooled in these frameworks in my first career in the UK military, I find myself applying these frameworks all the time, whether consciously or not. Sometimes that are helpful, and sometimes they aren’t. But just now, when looking at COVID, they are not just useful but also alarming. I’d like to share some of them here — and explain why I’m worried about what comes next in the UKs response to COVID.

The powerful thing about these frameworks is that they require that…

I work across, and try to bring together, the net zero, natural environment, health and wellbeing and economic agendas.

I aim to help people become leaders in places, not simply leaders in organisations, and to bring together work across the sectors that shape people’s lives. I focus on:

  • Helping people to build collaborative relationships.
  • Sharing the personal and organisational tools that make collaboration work in practice.
  • Developing place based strategies to address social and economic challenges and opportunities.

If you are interested in collaborating and would like to know more about me and my background, my CV is below.

Our collective challenge is not simply delivering outputs more efficiently — its mobilising the capabilities we have to benefit the places we all share.

The challenge of leadership in places, and why its failing now

We are really good at identifying or describing challenges. We also have plenty of plans and strategies. We also have very common narratives in sectors like health about the characteristics of our current ‘problems’ and how they might be addressed. But we are really very poor at doing something about these issues or challenges — we regularly fail to act to address them, fail to mobilise the resources needed, and fail to change (in a meaningful…

When people use the word ‘collaboration’ they often mean very different things and they are also very likely be approaching the collaboration in very different ways.

This is something that I have very rarely heard discussed in practice but it fundamentally shapes the way that people and organisations work together. Unless we share the way we think about collaboration — and the nature of our basic motivations to collaborate — we may struggle to collaborate in a way that is truly effective.

In my experience, this early work is almost never done — this needs to change and a ‘Bristol Scale’ has offered me a typology to enable me and the people i work with to be explicit about not only what we what to achieve but how we need to collaborate to achieve it.

On the basis of the work that I have done in places like Bristol (hence the name), I…

There is a powerful feeling among those now trying to work at what might be called system, place, neighbourhood or city level that ‘traditional’ approaches to leadership just don’t work. These approaches are just too rigid and they fail to recognise or respond to the very messy nature of working not within organisations, but places.

Structures and directives don’t solve complex challenges on their own.

As Toby Lowe has put it — the outcomes we seek (ie solving societal challenges) are the emergent properties of complex systems.

We can’t direct these systems — we have to participate in them.

And to do so we need a different approach to leadership. …

David Relph

I work to make places better for the people who live in them. Collaboration and leadership is how this happens. I write about these things.

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