Saturday 12 April 2008

Points North

I'm sitting in the small but rather lovely library in our village -Charlbury. Just returned from points north ; undertaking a regional roadshow " taking FutureBuilders forward ". We started in Birmingham and swept through Manchester, Leeds , and finally Newcastle. Since working for the Association of metropolitan Authorities i have retained a strong affection for the great metroploitan cities of the North ; the grand and confident Victorian architecture redolent of Empire and Commerce and civic pride. And today these are cities that have found a new role. my hotel in Newcastle look out over the brilliant engineering masterpiece of the grand Tyne Bridge and now also the new stream line pedestrian bridge leading to the restored Baltic Mills and the wonderful egg like concert hall in Gateshead.
As i remind the folks at the Newcastle road show my Great Grandfather William Daglish was born in Newcastle.( later my father reminds me my grandmother Anne Daglish was also born there , but William , a ship builder left with his young family to work in the Chatham dockyard and so i cam eventually to be born in Kent , the most gorgeous of English counties.
The roadshow are a great success.we outline our vision of change.What is hugely popular is the promise to cut the bureaucracy and move to a 1 week no or tentative yes and a 6 week definite yes or no for our customers. given the process was 5 months or more previously you can imagine how popular this is.
Will we achieve it? Well one of our 3 KPIs is a customer satisfaction index so we had better !
We also make clear its investment and service delivery On mission . Getting stuff done , as the CEO tells people.
i also meet up with the staff in our Newcastle office and have a good interchange. I think they suspected 2 heads...the issue is that good people got trapped in interminable process. They look keen on change. we will work with them to drive through that change. We are now into deal making .We are not a grant maker and so much of the current process must go into the shredder.
And it is clear a lot of people coming are into just that. It is also fantastic that people have been contributing ideas as well.
We are going to set up a tender ready fund , a fund to help organisations bid for contracts. And we will look at other ways to support building capacity to win contracts. A tool to self assess whether the organisation is ready for more or bigger contracts for example.
next week I'm assesssing the applications of people for new places on the FBE Board. We have attracted a very strong group of candidates , people from the very top investment companies ( and even some well known names ) and good sector CEOs from service delivery backgrounds. Just what we advertised for in fact . Well done to our search company Rockpools and to their partner David Fielding who has led the search .This is going to be one powerful board.I am not a member of the Investment Committee so as to avoid any perception of conflict We need to avoid the situation where on the previous Board the DCEO of ncvo was a member and was fully involved in investment decisions ( though im sure he would have declared any interest with ncvo members organisations ).Although I think this matter can be exaggerated conflicts are often more about perception than actual . We know in the life of public affairs how careful we all must be. We in fact will have delegated powers to a very experienced Investment Panel ( this is another change we have made ) so I will not even see papers. Though obviously the link through my role in acevo as a strong advocate of sector service delivery is a fantastic asset. It means we have a Chair with unrivalled knowledge and experience of the task of FBE. ( he says modestly )

And how good to see that Third Sector magazine have finally got round to publicising what we are planning , as opposed to rolling around in the gutter of despair.A front page story . Great .I'm having breakfast with Stephen Cook on Tuesday so I shall thank him ( though still expect him to pay for breakfast )
And here we can work with Capacity Builders. Already we have made a link with the CB programme on income generation which acevo is running.
It was cool to see that Capacity Builders Board will be discussing links with FBE . taking this forward i'm sure there is scope for a serious development and investment bank for the sector.1 billion pounds. Lets be ambitous for our sector.

And while the tours were on going i was putting the finishing touches to the acevo budget.its not all tour and glitz in a CEO life. Sometimes its the hard slog of the fine detail .acevo is really motoring at present , but that requires a CEO to remain vigilant ( I'm like Gordon brown in this ! )
I have also been putting the finishing touches to an idea to promote a third sector university. This would be the first big idea in the university sector since the OU. And the OU would be a great partner.We are a sector of 1.5ml people and 6 ml volunteers. IT is increasingly the sector of choice for graduates. We are increasing in our professionalism and our strength.
as a chief executive body .We must always be thinking about how we promote our role and our image.The 21st century is the century of the third sector.

And to end a rewarding week we get news in acevo from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office that they have awarded euclid , out third sector european leaders network ( of which I am the Hon Secretary General ) a 150 k grant to undertake leadership development in Eastern Europe , particularly Montenegro , Kosovo and Albania. This is stunning news. It means we will be working with the world's 2 newest countries. It is so clear that emerging democracies need a strong third sector. This will only happen with a developed third sector leadership . We must train and develop the nascent leaders of the sectors in those countries. That will both be a privilege and a challenge.

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