Total Place

From services to solutions: Croydon's leaders' event

Posted on November 11th, 2009

From services to solutions: Croydon’s leaders’ event

Ben Alcraft from the Leadership Centre reports on the Total Place senior leaders’ event in Croydon and his thoughts on the potential it represents

I attended the ‘Total Place: networking and sharing event for senior leaders’ in Croydon on the 6th of November in their beautiful Braithwaite Hall, with some of the character (though not characters!) of the Hogwarts library.

Croydon did a fantastic job, and the tone of the day was set well by Jon Rouse, CEO, Croydon Council and Caroline Taylor, CEO, NHS Croydon with their presentations, ‘The Croydon Imperative’ and ‘The Journey to Date’ (coming soon to the Total Place CoP). One of Caroline’s points that was echoed throughout conversations I heard is that Total Place is “compelling us to see people and communities as a resource to be enabled, rather than just a set of needs to be met.”

Croydon leaders' event

Croydon leaders' event

This, for me, is a key imperative of the Total Place programme.  A prescriptive, top-down approach to services (or solutions) seldom works and we’re in a position to greater enable the individual, encouraging greater democracy and (to some extent) a shared responsibility.

This is especially true at the dawn of the 21st century when the rise in social media and web 2.0 applications affords us an opportunity to involve a much wider community.  70% of the UK now accesses the web on a daily basis – allowing us to reach a huge (though admittedly not all) section of the population that might not have sought out, been aware of, or been able to access services in the past  There are even online viagra uk 12% of centenarians using the internet!  That might not seem significant, but if we can draw on just 12% of that age group and give them a voice, they surely stand a greater chance of becoming a resource in themselves, rather than a perceived ‘drain’.

An important shift in language to come out of the day for me was from customer services to customer solutions.  It is, after all, solutions we’re looking for – a more radical approach to the customer, or the citizen than we’ve perhaps seen in the past; as co-authors of their own future and their own identity.

There is always going to be a tension between the pilots and Whitehall’s quite understandable need for quantifiable results.  But as Caroline Taylor said, while they won’t be able to present quantifiable results from the Total Place programme in time for March; they will be able to present a business case from work they’ve done in the past and will continue to do along similar lines.  I’m always heartened by the places’ commitment post-election, post-pilot and post-hoo hah.

With thanks to John Bownas at Croydon Council for the photo.

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