From quick wins to slow burns

2 min readJul 17, 2021


How do you balance getting the quick wins with getting to know the organisation when you start a new job? Getting under the skin of what makes leaders tick and keeps them up at night — help them solve these problems to show your leadership style through calls to action and find your allies and changemakers in the organisation to mobilise around those causes using their skills and networks.

At Kent, when I started, I found that from social care commissioners, youth offending workers and community tutors and one of the calls to was to tackle bullying amongst teenagers, which then expanded to schools and work with universities.

At Lambeth, when I started, I found that through working with the environmental services workers, social care commissioners and estates workers, and one of the calls to action I used was getting residents to take greater responsibility to recycle which then led to scaling up street champions across the borough and using a randomised control trial to evaluate the most effective ways to incentivise people to co-produced.

At Ealing, when I started, it was with public health, sports & leisure and regeneration colleagues, using a call to action on getting people doing less than 30 minutes activity a week to get fit and active, which we tested in a neighbourhood and then we got other partners and funders on board, for the experiment to become a regional innovation challenge and national pilot.

At Camden, when I started, it was through a university, a local community organisation, a property developer, using a call to action to make physical spaces open to everyone and mix community, business and public service activity, which then turned into a makespace, built a cross-European partnership to make meanwhile spaces at the heart of influencing masterplanning and pivoted to make & deliver essentials.

At none of those organisations would I have known those would be the issues I could mobilise people from the start, and of course these weren’t the only activities I focused on when I started in these jobs, nor were the only relationships I built. However, they created in between spaces or liminal spaces where people who weren’t part of the same team but who were trying to shift things in their part of the organisation were loosely brought together to have greater effect on the issue. It reminds me that helping join up & thread the knots between small scale change across the organisation can have a bigger effect than trying to go big bang, as

Dan Hill would describe it “small pieces, loosely joined”.

Who are the people disrupting the status quo in your organisation?

What are the networks swimming under the surface that are spreading?

What are the issues they could swarm around?




Head of Policy Design, Scrutiny & Partnerships @newhamlondon #localgov Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese