Ian Laughton has been the Director of Nomad since its inception in 2003. As Chair of the Nomad Forum his role has been the overall delivery of the 4 million pound original project across its range of partner local authorities and the delivery of a sustainable Nomad Forum, events and activity. Previously, Ian was Head of e-Government at Cambridgeshire County Council with responsibility for the delivery of e-government, modernisation and efficiency targets. He was also previously responsible for the ICT and Information Systems of the Social Services Directorate at Cambridgeshire CC. Before joining local government Ian worked in the private ICT sector and a number of charitable organisations delivering media and technology programmes.
So I managed to talk to Ian after his presentation and ask him to do a quick overview of what he presented to the CELEB crowd on Thursday morning.
Here is the transcript of what he had to say…
- What is Nomad?
Nomad is a national project, focused on collecting together evidence and sharing expertise and learning about all aspects of flexible and mobile working in local authorities. Nomad has been running for 6 years now and originally an e-government project and now has been a self-funding project for the last 3 years.
Summary of Ian’s presentation
Ian talked about:-
- Giving people a feel from across the UK on where councils are on with their move towards strategic use of modern way of working, flexible working. The fact that some of the factors driving that change quite a lot in the last year, with a quick look at that.
- Also talks through our experience, what are the factors that make of os successful in a significant project and really although its about properties, its about ICT, management, leadership…. Its always come down to the people aspects. Are people really well-versed in what their trying to do, have you covered off all the people support and development aspects? Because if you haven’t done that, you won’t get the cultural change. You may get some minor transformation but actually the workforce will not adopt the new way of working in a way that actually produces the benefits that you originally set out in the business case.
- So what we’ve been looking at are those factors that we’ve seen in what we think has been very successful implementations and just trying to share that information with colleagues here today and what nomad has is a wealth of material that is freely available via website to people that will help them access some of the best learning that is around and of course Learning Pool itself has got resources, management particularly and about some of the things you need to think about flexible working.
Barriers in local government for flexible working
Today I think alot of local authorities are struggling with the financial aspects of the investment of that they need to make to transform services. Money is in short supply for all sorts of reasons. So councils are perhaps having to trim back their ambition in this area but their also seeing increasing the need to deliver much more efficient services so there a real tussle going on for them about how they can produce these more effective and efficient services but in a more constraint circumstances.
Is there a need in change of behaviour?
Certainly one of the key things is people and it is about changing the behaviour of members of staff. Its about changing the behaviour at the very top of the organization so we need chief execs a senior managers to model these new ways of working. I mean you are not going to get very far in convincing people to move to open plan type setttings if all your chief execs still have cellular offices for example. So then they need to take a very practical steps like that but also you need to support your middle managers. Your first line managers who will be crucial on implementing and insisting on this new way of working.
How to convince CEOs to get with the programme!!!
Well, one very good way is to show them a good sound business case that shows money coming out of the system and being available to do other things, to support the actual frontline service delivery. A year or so ago, a lot of that was coming from the property piece, rationalizing property portfolios, that’s way down the agenda now obviously with the crash in property prices but what we’re seeing and have hard evidence of is increase productivity once you’ve made those changes.
So for example, a borough in the North West is quite clearly demonstrating its whole benefits in council tax. An area that is getting 50% more through the system with the same staffing complement being moved to these new ways of working. Now that’s a gain that no chief exec can avoid.
All this information is available on the Nomad website http://www.projectnomad.org.uk
How can Learning Pool help develop “new ways of working” in local government?
I think Learning Pool can help partly because its got alot of resources online around the whole management aspect of cultural change. Its got some good stuff on actually implementing flexible working. Its a delivery mechanism that actually works to the difuse and the diversify workforce when bringing people together for training in the old physical sense. Its much more problematic once you’re working force is sprinkled around your geographic area working different time zones and so on because that’s all apart of the flexible working.
End of Interview
Liz is a researcher who is interested in the ways new kinds of social data and technology introduce challenges and opportunities to society.