Thursday, 30 October 2008

SouthWest One Savings - £60 million and rising!

"Great oaks from little acorns grow"

An old home truth is proving itself in Somerset today.
Earlier in the week the founders of SouthWest One proudly unveiled realistic areas of target savings that will, ultimately, be of huge benefit to all residents by increasing efficiency and reducing council taxes. Already £60 million has been ear-marked, and the plans display enormous imagination and foresight. My picture shows the design for new toilets in council offices. Eagle-eyed watchers will note that there are no doors for the cubicles. This simple savings will cut the amount of time wasted in comfort breaks by 80%. Toilet tissue will also be rationed for staff use. Taken together these essential innovations will save an additional £10 million over the lifetime of the contract, or not as the case may be. Similar economies are also being contemplated in canteen areas for stricter portion control, and staff will be expected to share cutlery and crockery. The identification of such financially astute ideas is critical to the success of this joint venture. I know that everyone will join me in congratulating the team who have spent twelve months finding ways to save money without actually saving any yet.

Friday, 24 October 2008

Away the lads!

I have been taking some important instruction in the matter of the warm and friendly dialect of the North East. Geordies are kind open people with a way of expressing themselves that is unique. My professional future may lie one day somewhere within sniffing distance of the Tyne. It would be folly not to acquaint myself with the language first. Kevin Keegan may be out but Alan Jones could soon be in. The pay is even better than what the good burghers of Somerset are currently shelling out. So watch this space

Friday, 17 October 2008

Beautiful Dreamers

Here's something to cheer us up.

Dream Team Challenge is Somerset's golden opportunity. Our dedicated workforce can show what they are really made of. I've signed up. Have you?

Thursday, 16 October 2008

An Old Lady Beckons

My renewed fascination with economics is timely. As readers may know Somerset County Council invested £25 million pounds with an Icelandic bank and fully expects to be recompensed for this sensible arrangement. Our judgement is confirmed today with the news that our friends at the Audit Commission also invested their millions in the same bank. The Audit Commission knows a good thing when it sees one. For a start they gave us four stars for excellence and they have also written glowingly about our joint venture with IBM. So everything must be in perfect order. All events carry a message, however obscure. I am beginning to see the message for me in these happenings. Events are proving my judgement to be not only perfectly sound but totally rock solid.

I have enormous respect and admiration for Mervyn King. I know that my native abilities in Economics coupled with my much honoured work in Sociology would serve him well at the Bank in its most challenging days. It would be morally wrong to ignore the inner calling of one's soul.
And the money's pretty good too.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Frome at the Inn

If you missed my conference speech in Wolverhampton on Tuesday there is, I am pleased to report, a four-star opportunity to meet me tomorrow over lunch in Frome. I will, as ever, be prepared to field questions about any issue at all. Try me. It promises to be a convivial occasion and well worth the £10.50 ticket which includes lunch.

Thursday, 9 October 2008


I telephoned my old friend Geir Haarde this morning. As usual he was in a buoyant mood and said 'everything is alright - how you say hunky-dory'. Geir knows his nation and understands the banking sector intimately. So Somerset has absolutely no need to be in any way alarmed. Our £25million investment of council tax payers money is not only rock solid but Geir assured me that the interest rate would soon reach hit a new high. Then the line went dead.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Colourful ideas

Jungian psychology has a thing or two to teach us. We ignore it at our peril. And there is nothing simple about the colour wheel. Colour can reveal much about our personalities and influence the way we work. That is why I am allowing my senior managers to participate in a special course tomorrow to help them improve their lives. They are off to a workshop at the lovely Bindon Country House Hotel where their ideas will be challenged by some of the sharpest brains in psychological profiling. I first discovered The Colour Works team at a conference for Chief Executives in the South West. Their workshops are a safe, non-threatening, high energy experience. The emphasis is on fun, motivation, learning and the freedom to enjoy all types of personality and personal styles. You come away with your unique, detailed profile, the appropriate Colour Works hat and – typically – a great big smile. You do not need an understanding of psychology or have any special training in order to make sense of the profiling. It is presented in user-friendly, accessible terms with simple visuals. Most importantly, this profile values the differences in people, rather than clumps them together as ‘types’.
The power of self-understanding is multiplied many times over as we move from PERSONAL to TEAM development and learning. By discovering the mechanics of some of the frustrations that exist within the team, we start to:

Focus on critical areas and resources

Celebrate success

Benchmark the team’s performance and progress

Encourage a supportive team culture based on respect and understanding

There is always a positive and dramatic effect on morale and productivity. ‘BREAKTHROUGH’ moments are common.Once the basics of team-working have been embedded, we are able to move on to measure the team’s performance against 16 core competencies, such as roles & responsibilities, DECISION-MAKING, creativity and trust.
The results often include that vital plus - releasing the "X" factor within the team.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Simple economics

I went to University to read economics. But boredom intervened and I switched to Sociology because it is quite unnecessary to know anything whatsoever about money or arithmetic, or the value of anything. I am still convinced that Milton Keynes was one of the founding fathers of the new economic order. So in the woolly discipline of Sociology it was inevitable that I would shine like an excellent star. No knowledge of economics is required and no knowledge of anything else either. It was thus something of a foregone conclusion that the University of Kent should award me first class honours. I relished the term “first class” and proceeded to Liverpool University where I was to obtain my second first class Masters degree in Civil Design (Town Planning to ordinary folk). Then it was back to Kent College – not a University, I’m afraid – to obtain my diploma in Management Studies. They presented it with distinction – which, I think you will concur - is a notch above first class. Anyway there has been a great deal of talk about economics in recent days and inevitably it re-awakened my early fascination. In fact I cannot recall a time when events in Washington and Westminster were more fascinating that match of the day. It all seems to be going wrong at the moment but it will turn out fine in the last chapter – mark my words. I think we in Somerset will need to learn to value delivery and cost effectiveness far more in future. Remind me to get a book out of the library about it, or did we cut the library budgets this year? The remarkable savings which SouthWest One will make – the projected figures have risen from £200million to a staggering £150million – are certain to be of benefit to everybody. You can all rest assured that I am in complete control and have the academic qualifications to match the challenge with excellence.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Making a Drama out of a Crisis

"Chief Executives and senior managers will be given the chance to confront contentious issues and challenge the accepted way of doing things, when they have a theatrical mirror held up to them, reflecting on how a crisis can become drama." This is exactly my sort of event, so I have booked a place at the Solace conference to participate. I can tell them more than a thing or two about contentious issues.
"After seeing a short dramatic scene the audience, in groups, then redirect the actors with new actions and lines, challenging situations and raising issues. The actors change groups and participants can then experience other points of view. Participants are also allowed to stop the action." Frankly they should hold the next Solace conference in Taunton. And I'm sure my loyal staff and loving family would have several things to say about the appalling attacks made upon me by some. It is great to be able to rely on solid support at times of considerable stress.