As others have reviewed their year, I thought I’d review my year at Camden. At the start of this year, I had been at Camden Council as Head of Strategy & Change for just over three months. Over 2019, I’ve tried to lead teams in ways which start with relationships and create the spaces for others to support that change, as well as open up opportunities to others to get stuck in and bring their skills to the table.
I’ve written about how we need to start with what matters to people in their everyday lives, how we need to challenge ourselves and others to be brave & radical and work out in the open to develop creative ways to tackle the issues.
Over my first “quarter” at Camden from September-December 2019, I had having worked with other services to develop an outcome-based approach for our medium term financial strategy. With this agreed, at the start of the new year, we kicked off transformation on several cross-cutting issues:
- Creating a portfolio of experiments to test how we can work in a more neighbourly way, on issues like using physical spaces to help people thrive with We are Snook & Social Integration Design Lab, helping people feel safe with Design Council, get into good jobs and improve their wellbeing with FutureGov
- Developing a whole systems approach to how we commission & deliver advice with Traverse, how we work with our voluntary & community sector with We are Snook, how we help get fit & active with We are Snook and how we prevent & tackle homelessness
- Designing mission-led experiments to how we bring together partners to tackle the climate crisis from Transition Town to Extinction Rebellion via Veolia and UCL, like through Think & Do, or tackle loneliness & cohesion through the Loneliness Lab and Alternative Camden, or how we use open spaces to help people improve their wellbeing through the Future Parks Accelerator
- Supporting the strategic development to how we provide, build & sell homes, securing £30 million of funding
- Turning our Public Collaboration Lab partnership with Central Saint Martins inside out by developing a neighbourhoods makespace for residents to become everyday entrepreneurs
- Creating ways for underrepresented groups to influence through Camden Women’s Forum, Neighbourhood Makers Group & Community Champions
I’ve developed an associate model at Camden where people are members of our Strategy & Change service and lead different programmes, embedded in services so that our team is constantly rooted in the lived experience of our residents & frontline staff & partners. They have skin in the game in feeling ownership over the change and share learning between the programmes. This also means they’re more likely to be in the spotlight of future recruiters! My perspective on developing people isn’t to keep them in the team at all costs like a protective parent.
I support my team to stretch their performance and their skills and accelerate their development in the organisation. As such, we have relatively high turnover with five people in my team promoted to more senior roles in the organisation, with two becoming heads of service and three programme/portfolio/improvement managers. They now join a merry band of strategy & change alumnis throughout the organisation!
It also means I’ve been privileged to welcome new members in my team which has diversified our thinking, practice & networks, with people coming from Grenfell Response, Innovation Unit, Citizens Advice, Wellcome Trust, Islington & Lambeth Council and Year Here and backgrounds in transformation, service design, regeneration, social investment, social care, banking and business development.
I’ve also worked with our senior management team to create more opportunities for people to lead, developing a portfolio-based approach to our work, with new portfolio lead roles and portfolios which will bring together people working on issues within the portfolio to better anticipate, prioritise, mobilise, test & scale ways to help the organisation navigate the challenges & opportunities that a post-Brexit 2020 awaits!
If you’re looking for a new challenge, can’t wait to start a new opportunity, check out new roles we’re recruiting for, deadline is 5th January!
If you’re curious about the team, check out about what we do!