Lives We Lead

As a forerunner to the Westminster Government’s national-scale Total Place programme, we led a pioneering approach in Suffolk that adopted and piloted a fresh, ‘whole system’ view on how the delivery of public services might be re-imagined.

At the time, financial pressure was really beginning to build on the public sector following the recession, so organisations had to start to find new ways of improving outcomes with fewer resources. For us, the way forward was clear, collaborative working was the place that offered the most untapped potential.

This exciting, new initiative (the first of its kind nationally) had at its core a ‘Leadership Collaborative’ of 22 leaders from the public, private and voluntary sectors who joined forces to find ways to improve quality of life for people in Suffolk. Through sharing challenging and, at times, uncomfortable experiences, they developed a deeper degree of trust and ‘professional friendship’ that allowed them the space to innovate, take risks and give one another the benefit of the doubt. Differences in perspective were surfaced and a common ground of aspiration and innovation was found.

Ten months on from the first Leadership Collaborative meeting, Suffolk’s leaders had mapped £4.8bn of the public expenditure in the County and were moving forward to explore how best to remove existing barriers to change, leverage the combined resource and respond meaningfully to specific local challenges.

The Lives We Lead produced many examples of innovation and efficiency emerging from a fresh approach, but perhaps the most striking outcome for Suffolk was a new, energized, optimistic and collaborative ‘whole system’ public leadership, ready to face the gritty challenges ahead and with a shared purpose to improve the lives of the people they lead.