Today, Anna Fowlie, CEO of SCVO shares her reflections on Workforce Scotland, inspired by last weeks blog by Janet Whitley. Anna chaired the Workforce Scotland Steering Group from 2015-2018.
Janet’s thoughtful reflection gave me pause to think back on my involvement in Workforce Scotland and the progress we’ve made over the last few years.
My involvement started with the unfortunately named “Colloquium” and then the first steering group, chaired by the inimitable Justine Curran, then chief constable of Tayside Police. Justine described it as knitting fog. While we weren’t totally great at concrete actions, some things did happen around collaborative learning, Skilled Workers, Skilled Citizens and Employee Engagement. And we were united by a determination to change things.
My determination has always been to get people working in public services, whoever they were employed by, to feel they were working for the people of Scotland first and foremost and to sign up to a set of shared values (preferably those on the Scottish mace). We’ve yet to crack that nut.
How we’ve gone about things has always been a bit unorthodox, and I for one have always found the “kaftan of weirdness” a wee bit itchy and ill-fitting. It didn’t always sit well with colleagues across different sectors, but there were always a brave few who were prepared to give it a try. And that’s what we have relied on – people giving stuff a try. If it worked, great; if it didn’t, learn and move on.
Things are in a different place now. We might not have fully implemented the Christie Commission’s recommendations but we now have a much clearer focus on the citizen and an acceptance that the workforce has to be right at the heart of reform, not an afterthought. That’s got to be a good thing and I look forward to seeing more progress.
Janet Whitley, Head of the Workforce Scotland Team at The Scottish Government, shares her reflections on the journey of Workforce Scotland.
Very often there are things that happen in our lives that cause us to look back and reflect, reset our priorities and bring new energy around these. Some colleagues will be aware that I was away from work for a spell last year with breast cancer and that is certainly one of those triggers to think over what is important, what brings me energy and what is it that I enjoy doing.
Between 23rd and 30th January 2017, Workforce Scotland will be hosting and supporting the Fire Starter Festival, a week-long festival of collaborative learning events, illuminating creative, disruptive and innovative ways in which we can all transform ourselves, our organisations and the wider system.
The First Minister has provided a clear commitment to empowering individuals and communities to become involved in designing public services. Many people across Scotland are currently lighting their own small fires by exploring genuine, participatory methods of engagement, creating innovative and transformative changes.
Day 5 of the Fire Starter Festival was an opportunity for colleagues from across public services to come together and try out some of our Workforce Scotland tools. Janet Whitley, Workforce Scotland lead, blogs for us about two of those tools: the Enabling Collaborative Leadership Pioneer Programme and the Dialogue Community of Practice.
We began with a taster of the Enabling Collaborative Leadership Pioneer Programme, which is an offer to work with collaborative teams (‘Pioneer Sites’) across public services on real work issues where there is a need to find different kinds of solutions to complex challenges. The approach is built around a core model of action inquiry, supported through a team of facilitators and a shared commitment to learning as we go.
For me, hearing some of the stories from the collaborative teams that we have been working with really brings the programme to life. This approach has made a real difference to how they have worked and the outcomes they have achieved.
Colleagues from the Musselburgh Pioneer Site shared some of their experience of working with families who were intensive users of multiple services, beginning with the questions: “What is it like to be in this family?” and “What is it like to be me as a practitioner working with this family?” This approach has really changed how they’re thinking about this work.