Brave Hearts, Strategic Minds

Hello PPMA members and Friends

My blog this week comes from the cafe at Dundee Airport. The departure lounge is about the size of my living room, but the coffee served does pass muster and this always an important factor on the day after the night before at the Jigger Inn, St Andrews, venue of the Society of Personnel and Development Scotland’s annual seminar. Well the whole event was not in the aforementioned Inn, but last night’s annual dinner, complete with a performance by Elvis was long a memorable, celebrating as it did Scotland’s musical heritage. They do not claim Elvis as one of their own it is true, but the Bay City Rollers and the Proclaimers did feature during the evening.

Now one of the delegates did tell me that they read this blog, so I should make it clear that besides the networking opportunities there were a rich variety of speakers on the programme. Lord Michael Bichard gave his views on the future of public services. He lamented that despite the huge funding challenges being faced and the acceptance that the current model of delivery was unsustainable, the key fundamental debates about the future were not getting the most air time.

How was demand going to be managed downwards? How can we make citizens take more responsibility for their own lives, not because it cuts costs, but because it is the right thing to do? How can we give those citizens a chance by designing services which are simple to navigate through and where they are properly joined up. He made a great analogy to when he purchased an I-Pad Nd someone asked him if he had looked at the instruction manual? Of course there is not one, because it is so intuitive to use.

There was a need for innovation and to create environments where people can innovate and we needed systems that reward value added and not compliance. The future in Lord Bichard’s view lies in greater devolution of public services and greater collaboration between a range of service providers.

I went from there to a discussion about the proposal in Scotland to bring together Adult Health and Social Care. The mood in the room was not positive and examples were given of previous attempts at joining up and partnership that had failed. The presenter told a story about a conference involving key stakeholders from health and adult social care. Those on the conference platform were invited to choose a relevant piece of music to introduce themselves. The project manager wanted to choose a Smiths song, “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” or anything by Leonard Coen. The project sponsor selected “Suspicious Minds” ( I never knew Elvis was so big in St Andrews!).

This shows the challenges of developing the kind of partnerships which are designed to simplify things for the customers, reduce cost and help manage demand. The are some real practical barriers to overcome, but sadly so much of what gets in the way is political and cultural. Lord Bichard’s challenge to the HR community was find the people who can make it happen and change the people if necessary.

The theme of the conference was “Brave Hearts and Strategic Minds” and that does encapsulate what HR people need. Elvis put it another way: “it’s now or never.”



By | 2017-07-30T12:23:22+01:00 November 9th, 2012|Categories: Martin Rayson|7 Comments


  1. Martin Rayson 10th November 2012 at 7:36 am - Reply

    It would be remiss of me not to thank Laura the new President of SPDS for making Anne and myself so welcome and to congratulate them on an excellent event. We look forward to welcoming them to Bristol and to strengthening our partnership during the course of the year

  2. Leatham 14th November 2012 at 4:21 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the feedback Martin – sounds as if it was an intersting event and it would be good to read about some live examples where HR have made the change Lord Bichard is describing. While I am often promoting ‘a little less conversation and a little more action’…it does need to be recognised that in certain areas we have the power to influence more than physically simply being able to change people…thank you to Kerry and colleagues for organising the event in Manchester last week. I found the day very thought provoking and I particularly liked the debated between Nita Clarke and Rob Briner on employee engagement..well done for bringing a bit of challenge to the agenda…I loved it!

  3. Richard Crouch 14th November 2012 at 10:02 pm - Reply

    News travels and many have heard about the converse of opinion held in Manchester on engagement. To my mind, it’s pretty simple which is without engagement, meaning at work or perhaps thinking of work as a vocation rather than a chore, work itself means very little. Without engagement there is little point in work apart from being able to pay the bills and surely the aspiration must be more than that? Great to hear the PPMA leading the debate.

  4. Martin Rayson 14th November 2012 at 10:35 pm - Reply

    I am disappointed I missed what sounds a fascinating debate in Manchester. I think we as public sector employers have ensure that through this painful period of cost-cutting we continue to treat our staff as more than a commodity and a cost to be managed.

    In terms of examples of HR teams who were at the forefront of change, Lord Bichard made reference to the tremendous success of the Olympics and the achievement of the HR Team there. What Lord B is looking for is a “wave”, rather than isolated examples, evidence that things will be fundamentally different.

  5. Raffaela Goodby 18th November 2012 at 10:45 pm - Reply

    I am heartened at the key themes coming out of recent high profile events at the ‘heartbreak hotel’, and the thoughts of ‘don’t be cruel’ to employees and instead to offer different engagement strategies to ‘love me tender’ and offer support from PPMA to it’s members, but not ‘too much’.

    Innovation was a key theme at our recent annual awards ceremony (which Martin attended, thanks Martin) , and rather than get ‘all shook up’ over the challenges we face in Public Sector, I think we can all take the approach that ‘it’s now or never’ and we won’t ‘surrender’ and will instead use the engagement skills we have, to be a ‘hard headed woman’ (or man) to face our challenges head on with grit and determination, and perhaps a spangly jumpsuit or two.

    Sorry 🙂 Hope you’re not all ‘crying in the chapel’


  6. Martin Rayson 19th November 2012 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    Wow. Not quite sure how to follow that post. This shows the kind of creativity that will enable HR to shape solutions that will be innovative and engaging. Very pleased to have such talent within the PPMA.

  7. Richard Crouch 20th November 2012 at 9:51 pm - Reply

    All these blogs about songs makes me think of hotel California and you know what that song was about! Mind you, a little bit of off the wall thinking is hugely innovative…so people tell me….

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