What will happen to Total Place under the new coalition government?

June 7, 2010 at 8:42 am Leave a comment

By Peter Baeck

What will happen to Total Place under the new coalition government? As Michael Button points out in this excellent article on the topic, Total Place was not mentioned in neither the coalition manifesto, the Queens speech or Osbornes announcement of spending cuts, which leaves some uncertainty about the future of the project.  For Button one thing is sure, Total Place will be rebranded. For Lord Michael Bichard, head of the Total Place officers’ group, the name is however irrelevant, whats important is that the process of that total place champions survives – as he explained it at a South East RIEP conference.

Total Place is a way of doing things differently, and I hope this will survive. Total Place as a brand won’t survive, but I’m not sure that’s important.

In the article Michael Button goes in to much more detail on the perspectives for total place and the opinions of other key players such as Bob Neil and HMT head of public policy, Helen Bailey, opinion on Total Place.

After having read Buttons article I stumbled across this blog by director of the  Centre for Public Service Partnerships  John Tizard. Tizard although excited about total place and the results it has produced point to the fact that if total place is to survive it has to become more than it is now.

This means focusing on people and not institutions, personal control or personal aggrandisement.  This could be  hard emotionally challenging for many local leaders. Total Place will only survive if it evolves as an engine to help deliver the new agenda, and should neither be seen or promoted as a means of survival for the public sector (..) it can and does deserve to rise ‘Phoenix’-like in some new form, provided we can construct and encourage a new facilitating architecture for co-operation and partnership at local level and between the centre and localities.

I am not nearly enough inside the world of Total Place to come with any judgements on my own on this topic. What I can say is, as someone who has worked briefly with Total Place as part of Innovation Units work with Total Place Croydon, is that the civil servants we have worked with have been truly excited about the space Total Place has created for them to think differently about the way they design and deliver their services.  No matter what name/brand it is given I think the aim should be for the new government to build on this enthusiasm and allow and encourage LA’s to create this space in a similar or different form.

Building on this, one of the things we learned from our work with Total Place Croydon is that the Radical Efficiency approach to redesigning public services helped Croydon go beyond the idea of Total Place and take the first steps in to amongst others reconceptualizing the customer and think differently about partnerships. (You can read more about this work in the Total Place Croydon report).  So when Tizard recommends a phoenix like rise of Total Place focusing on a new facilitating architecture for co-operation and partnership at local level, I agree, because I have seen the first steps of this process being taken with success, in Croydon and the other localities we have worked over the last 5 months to develop radically efficient public services.


Entry filed under: Innovation Policy, Public Services, Radical Efficiency, Total Place.

Another one bites the dust….. Why will we change our lifestyles to stop the deficit, but not to stop global warming?

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