New maps, new collaborations

hackney canal and gas works

Last week I wrote about old and familiar issues moving into the new year with us.

This week I was struck by something else; a feeling of people genuinely looking to plan what ‘new’ looks like.

This isn’t the optimistic early talk from Spring/Summer last year, when everyone thought that the new world was going to look exactly like their previous views of what the world should look like, but rather weary public and voluntary sector leaders exploring, with honesty and clarity about what would and could shift.

It was, in one instance, a conversation about how four different local authorities would work together around a shared part of the city from how they have been in the last ten decades. A reimagination of what a map looks like, and what their roles should be when they think differently about a shared part of the city.

In another instance it was a hugely impressive initiative in a different London borough (Black Thrive in Lambeth) talking about the systemic challenges facing black residents in the borough, and how if infrastructure is not working for all residents, then it gets harder to make any change for residents of a particular demographic. I was reminded of the need to think harder and better about how to work together on common problems and specific problems in a mutually supportive way, rather than having to choose between them.

Finally, I was part of a large conversation about East London. Mny of the social sector institutions came together to talk about collaboration and recovery, and the balance of leadership and coproduction required to rethink our role and our work. I’m grateful to Jim Minton of Toynbee Hall for kicking it off.

There was no hubris in any of these conversations, no view that those in the rooms had any or all of the answers, just a lot of people thinking hard about how to navigate the very real challenges facing our organisations, and the people they serve.

Reading, listening and watching

One of those weeks when I just read bits and bobs. I nearly finished Obama’s autobiography, and must admit that I think more highly of him in some ways, but also hear him defending himself against a future to come. There’s an essay to write on his attitude towards leadership as revealed in this book. 

I ran a lot. I’m finding if I get out each day, it massively improves my mood and productivity, even on days when I don’t think I have the time. And so have been listening to random playlists, that seem to jump between Motown, folky singer song writers, and some higher tempo rock.

John Hitchin Renaisi CEO