Friday 18 April 2008

Budapest and Battles

The Hotel Gellert in Budapest is a marvellous art deco building ,elegant and slightly faded but with a wonderfull thermal spring turkish bath . I was there at 7am this morning soaking away the champagne of last night. It is a Euclid Board meeting and a euclid conference. euclid is the European third sector leaders network. We set this up with partners in France and Sweden , and although only a year old is getting noticed. So last nights reception had a delegation from the European Commission and even Prince Hapsburg . The CEO of the big Hungarian bank CIB is our partner and I met the charming CEO .. Intesa SanPaulo is also supporting us , and its one of Europe's biggest banks. About 200 people are here from across Europe. Our key mission is the leadership development of sector leaders. So often organisations seek money for projects but fail to ask for money to develop their leaders .So our message is that without strong leadership organisations fail. euclid is unique in that it is a people based , not organisation based project. A Europe of people not institutions '
Yesterday I had tea with Her Britannic Majesty's Ambassador. Always good to get a run down on the political and social context of the country.An urbane and charming chap , as British Ambassadors usually are !
The acevo and euclid staff are real stars. i am somewhat intolerant of poor performance and so I have tried to gather around me in acevo a bunch of talented and enthusiastic staff . There are some real stars. It is the reason acevo can out perform and achieve.Indeed its a comment you often hear about acevo - We have a very dynamic team .I1m lucky , as I could not achieve what I do without them. talent is key. Never put up with second best in your staff.

And in the background we are fighting a number of battles.The Ministry of Justice are trying to wiggle out of their commitment to drive up the service delivery role for third sector bodies .acevo fought hard for the offender management bill and we feel betrayed. They seem to want to drop the 10 per cent target as they will not meet it. So no deep philosophical objection to targets , just a wimpish and abject failure to achieve. Officials are beeing weak so acevo has been ramming home the message that you drop targets at your peril . And if you do it is because you have a better plan. So we have swung into action. There have been high level discussions and we think we can get this back on track.We have to. Probation services need an injection of the power and focus of the many brilliant third sector organisations that are in acevo. They are a great lot, committed and passionate about their task.
For me this is a great indication of acevo's strength. As CEOs we might have a short whinge , but then we get stuck in and get things changed. While others moan , acevo sorts stuff, our motto I think.

And we are also in behind the scenes discussion on the debacle on the DCLG strategic partnerships strategy. This needs sorting .It will be .Hazel Blears is a good Minister. Strong and deeply committed to the sector and our values. I'm a great fan. So I will work with her to sort something better.

And let me leave you on a lighter note. Do you read a Mr Knight in Third Sector each week . He authors a column which gives us his views on the meetings he has been too, books he has read and even conversations with taxi drivers. Recently he wrote on blogging. For Mr Knight this is only for the most serious discussions . No humour allowed. He berates my blog , apparently he says no one is interested in reading about whether I get a dog or the fact I went to No 10 to talk about the trade unions. Lighten up Mr Knight . I do so hope there will always be scope for irony and self deprecating humour , as I was saying to Prince Hapsburg only last night.

Indeed I understand my blog is favoured reading with FBE staff and at Regents Wharf ( only last Monday one of my staff was taken to task for a comment I had made in my blog ) and ,amazingly it was followed up with instructions from Regents Wharf on what we should put on our website. The power of the blog.

I have to leave the conference in Budapest early . I'm back to London tonight as my father is having his 80th birthday party tomorrow. Hope I live that long!

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