This is another entirely random ‘what if?’ post. I freely admit that not the right amount of serious considered intellectual thought has gone into this.
What if, right, we all rotated Chief Executives every few years or so? I can’t quite remember how it started and finding the conversation would be difficult, but I walked into a Twitter conversation with Toby Blume, and this was the musing which came out of it.
Because, you see, sometimes the power of what if, is not the answer but the liberation in realising that prefixing a sentence with those trwo words almost gives you permission to answer with the ludicrous and frankly unworkable.
Out of the ludicrous and unworkable, maybe things can emerge which are refined, corners hacked off, and which might actually be good ideas?
So what if we did all swap Chief Executives every few years?
Well, I suppose you’d want to match similar sized, similar demographic areas. I suppose you’d want them to be experienced in managing a similar budget. Maybe you might want them to come from the same tier of local government as your are is. Or maybe the value would be in having a simple rotary system which stated that if you became CEX you’d have to commit to following the pre-defined trail of assignments.
Well I’m not a Chief Executive so I can only guess at the benefits – but different experience applied to the same problem often results in problems being solved if the person before couldn’t. Different management cultures sometimes result in different structures which allow people to excel in ways they couldn’t before, or help highlight issues in cascades of information and ethos. Different backgrounds results in switches perhaps to more revenue focused operations rather than simply ticking over and covering costs.
By which I mean to say, our Chief Executives are currently a patchwork of assorted backgrounds, genders, experiences, visions, ethos’, ethics, perceptions, innovative histories and rulebook tearing. In only bringing to bear one square of the patchwork to any one area, are we maybe missing a trick in building a blanket coverage of England where not only does every area get to benefit from the superstars, but also some of the would be superstars get to move into areas where the hard work has perhaps been done, and lessons can be learnt in a gentler and less pressured environment which has happened as a result of the superstars fine tuning.
Because I do wonder, you see, what makes a Chief Executive. I do wonder what qualifies a person to become one. I do wonder where the training school is which teaches you how to be one. I do wonder, some days, quite why anyone would ever want that job in the first place, being as how from down here, it looks quite frankly terrifying.
But most of all, I do wonder if talent would be absorbed a little easier into the existing pool of CEX’s if it were possible to ease them in gently – as a result of gaps being managed in rotation systems to enable that to happen.
The usual disclaimer applies. We’ve not even got to Councillors yet.
SES positions were initially considered to be mobile. But they don’t move. Moving them frequently would be somewhat like the military, people coming and going often, with the related nonsense of moving someone new in. As soneone who has had 9 superivosrs in 7 years I wouldn’t support it.
@Carol — And yet the military with its frequent rotation of assignments and leaders has somehow become the most respected organization in government. Perhaps the rest of us could learn from them.
Even better, make the rotations random to keep any behind-the-scenes politics out of it.