The Local Vision Learning Network Journey 2016 – 2017

Mar 17, 2017

January 2017 marked the end of the latest round of the Local Vision Learning Network, which has seen Local Vision places from across the country come together to share learning, stories and hear about the latest systems leadership approaches from the Leadership Centre and a range of other speakers, as well as explore their own place-based work.

Over the last month we’ve been speaking to participants to find out how the Network helped them, where there’s room to expand the content and reach of the Network, and what might be most effective in developing the offer going forward:

Allison Trimble Systems Leadership Enabler & Learning Network Facilitator
I was interested in supporting the Network because I feel strongly about the value of having a specific thinking space for leaders working with complex social challenges to reflect on how they are they working and to make sense of what might be going on in their work. In addition, learning about systemic factors is much more possible when groups come together from across a range of Places to share individual experience and then work collectively to make connections and explore the systemic themes. We aimed to create a learning network which allowed people to experience being in a network rather than a hierarchy. In this respect we tried to be congruent with the learning purpose of the network through the design of the learning activities themselves and this was important to me in modelling the kind of environments we think are important in Systems Leadership.

“It brought together like minded people who understand Systems Leadership”

In our conversations, we’ve received overwhelmingly positive feedback for the Network and the opportunities for collaboration and learning it offers.

One of the key strengths identified has been the chance to network with other Local Vision colleagues. A recurring part of the Network has been a time for co-consulting, where Local Vision places can outline a specific issue they’ve faced and get the perspective of others who may have faced similar hurdles. This has been key in many of the participants looking at their work differently and applying a different lens in how to address the problem, and something many want to continue as the Network develops.

Over the course of the year, there have also been provocations from Systems Leadership Enablers who’re involved in the Local Vision work, as well as outside speakers who’ve looked at topics including developing the relationship between the public sector, third sector and communities, and Asset Based Community Development, something which has proved invaluable in widening the scope of the Network. You can read about each event and the speakers involved on our news page here.

Helen Kelly Director of Solihull Together Programme, Solihull Local Vision
“I believe in collaboration and crossing boundaries to find shared solutions to the problems in our local system. This sounds straightforward but keeping going with this approach is not always easy. Being part of the learning network was really important as it provided a safe space to reflect, learn and test solutions with people from different systems offering different perspectives. Again a simple approach that provided lots of rich learning – my curiosity, inquisitiveness and the benefits, including a way of personally reenergizing, kept me coming back.”

Participants have also told us how it has helped improve their knowledge of Systems Leadership, seeing what’s happening in places as well as the positioning of Systems thinking on a national scale. By looking at this, places have been able to apply new ideas to their own work as well as practically experimenting with it within the ‘safe space’ offered by the Network meetings.

How can the Learning Network support you better?

Tina Favier Head of Wellbeing, Adur & Worthing Councils, Adur & Worthing Local Vision
“I have gained so much from my experience with Local Vision. Attending the Learning Network has been invaluable in terms of the additional learning I have been exposed to about systems leadership in practice. Hearing from key individuals about their innovative work has been illuminating. You can never under-estimate the value of connecting with other systems and leaders to learn about their experiences, and these networks have provided really rich opportunities to do this. I highly recommend them”

In the light of competing demands on our time, and when other initiatives and programmes demand our attention, we’ve been thrilled that so many have seen the importance of the Learning Network both for creating a safe space to look at issues objectively, but also for improving the personal resilience of the participants in dealing with these demands. We realise that competing demands can take the time, and we hope that in future the Network will continue to be seen as important, and that the offer is of continued benefit both for what participants can put in and take away from the meetings.

When speaking with those involved the Learning Network, we’ve seen a clear commitment to the Network offer, but also a desire to expand the reach and depth of thinking as the capacity and understanding of the participants increases.

All of the Local Vision places have worked with Systems Leadership Enablers in taking approaches to deal with their cross-place ‘messy’ issues. Over the last year the Network has focused on some of these approaches, looking at ways of framing and working to address the need in localities, and there’s now a desire for a ‘deep dive’ into these methods and how they can be applied more widely.

How we can move forward together…

Participants have also been clear that the face- to-face nature of the Network is one of its key strengths in allowing the development of relationships with colleagues across the country. But we know that pressures on our time are always present. So we’re looking at ways that social media and online webinars can be included to allow participation despite this pressure.

Over the next few months, the Leadership Centre will be looking to how we can support the Learning Network going forward and what form this may take. We’ll be in touch with all involved in the near future but to keep up to date with any Learning Network announcements visit or follow us at @localleadership.

Finally, the Centre like to thank our two Enablers, Allison Trimble and Bernie Brooks, who together facilitated each of the Network meetings over the last year, as well as planned an engaging and provoking programme for the events and invited the wide variety of speakers to come and talk to the participants about their own approaches and experience in this work.

John Holmstrom Chief Executive, Worthing Churches Homeless Projects, Adur and Worthing Local Vision
“Systems leadership has felt a real ‘homecoming’ as a third sector leader who has worked hard to build alliances and partnerships over the last 20 years. I have learnt new skills and behaviours to increase shared purpose across systems and help form “coalitions of the willing”. The Learning Networks have added to that learning and chance to meet with colleagues from other systems and parts of the country. They provided safe space to test newly learnt skills and chance to hear a range of inspirational speakers.”


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