Trojan mice, peoples services and the application of systems leadership in the West Midlands


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Directors from Adult, Children and Public Health services from the 14 local authorities responsible for delivering the people based services in the West Midlands came together for what was thought to be the first meeting of its type in the country.


Alistair Neill, CEO at Herefordshire Council and West Midlands lead CEO for Integration

in the region in welcoming the 43 Directors said that the event provided an opportunity at the end of ‘term’ to reflect on the many challenges directors are trying to tackle and draw breath before the next onslaught.

The focus for the workshop was provided by Debbie Sorkin, National Director of Systems Leadership, the Leadership Centre who talked about  ‘Systems Leadership: its practical application and impact in places’. Debbie outlined the many approaches being taken to joining services up and reflected that integration remains high on everyone’s agenda, as is combined authorities, but that real change starts from an individual.

The subsequent discussion looked at the variety of approaches being applied to Systems Leadership in our places and provided practical examples of the impact of the approaches taken at Solihull and Coventry Councils.

There was a general recognition of the opportunities for bringing this work together across places in the West Midlands and strengthening connections, particularly with Health, Police and Fire colleagues. It was highlighted that ‘structures don’t bring about change – people do’ and that the people in the room provided an important good starting point!

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Subsequent table discussions focused on ‘systems leadership approach in the following areas:

1) Mental Health and Wellbeing (facilitated by Stephen Chandler)

2) Workforce Strategies (facilitated by Jo Davidson/ Tony Ivko)

3) Commissioning (facilitated by Martin Samuels & Chris Lewington)

Common themes emerging across these three areas were identified, with the importance of creating a ‘common endeavour’, looking beyond our service silos and the prominence of communities to our purpose being emphasised in each discussion.

The final session focused on Sector Led Improvement – approaches, synergies and opportunities for joint working both within local government and, more importantly, with system partners.

Paul Johnston (left) and Alistair Neill (right)


In his closing remarks Alistair Neill commented on the synergies that exist across the three associations and the importance going forward of thinking about ‘systems led improvement as opposed to sector led’.





Useful links – leadership frameworks



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Your feedback from the Joint WM ADCS/ WMADASS/ WM ADPH event

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