Friday, 1 August 2014

Wading through Treacle

As a lawyer, I am used to sitting in meetings. But in the private sector it does not make sense to sit about in meetings while everybody's costs run up.

There are simple rules. Only turn up for the part of the meeting that you are needed. Have joint meetings rather than go over the same ground over and over again. Use video conferencing. Have well thought out agendas...

I had one (building society) client that went through a period of having internal meetings with everybody standing up, to ensure that meetings were short and to the point . A bit extreme but Cornwall Council are way down the other end of the spectrum.

For example, the Chief Executive (on £165,000 per annum) was tasked by the administration to tour Cornwall to meet members locally to discuss the Council's Strategy. Then we all came in to hear what everybody else thought. Then we had ten meetings for different groups of councillors to ask for the information they would need to consider the Council's draft budget. Then we had nine meetings (fronted by the Chief Executive) so that different groups of councillors could hear the emerging strategy and give comments. Then there were nine focus groups to consider whether we needed to change the way in which the Council was governed. There will be ten meetings in September to consider the actual draft budget....

Recently, the administration at County Hall has been very miffed to be publicly criticised by Chacewater Parish Council. My own experience of town and parish councils is that their meetings tend to be workmanlike. Maybe the current administration could learn something from them?

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