Necessity is the mother of invention. The global pandemic has magnified the meaning of this proverb to a new level. Difficult situations should inspire ingenious solutions and, in many cases, this is happening. But innovation shouldn’t be confined to the short-term. It needs to be captured and sustained by planning teams who are not sitting idly by. There are many ways that this can be achieved, but we believe that the foundation to any success is sharing expertise.
With this in mind, we held a planning session earlier in April with senior heads of planning from several councils. Some of us connected for the first time. Others were well acquainted. But all of us took away a shared understanding. Challenges were confronted, expertise shared, and this created a platform for progress. With this understanding gained, we could begin, and will continue, to help each other with our thoughts, experiences and practical suggestions.
What are the challenges planning teams face and why should we talk about them?
By discussing the challenges your team are facing with those on the outside, you unlock solutions. You also forge a shared understanding where barriers once stood. In the first planning session, we discussed the challenges of engagement, familiarity, migration and education. How do we engage key members in big schemes? How can we familiarise ourselves with technology? How can we migrate to remote working? These are all immediate challenges. But the long-term challenges cannot be neglected. How do we sell the benefits of change back to our leaders? If this question goes unanswered, there is a danger that we’ll return back to business as usual; discarding the changes that had the potential to revolutionise the way we work.
Seizing opportunities, capturing change.
What happens if the inventions born of necessity are lost in the comfortability of old habits? Opportunities are missed and the public are denied the rewards of better public bodies. This can’t happen. And in the planning session we encouraged planning teams to break the chains of habit and take advantage of change. Take advantage of the downturn in applications to get a head start. Take advantage of new software. And take advantage of the agility afforded to teams. But once the restrictions have ended, the chains of habit don’t have to be soldered back together.
Capture the benefits. If virtual meetings have seen attendance and focus increase, keep them. If council-only buildings are unnecessary, adapt them. And if supportive challenge has seen you grow as a leader, let it become your new normal.
Envisioning a future beyond COVID-19.
The future is exciting. Imagine a thriving high street. Leisure is at the fore. Balconies now dot the nearby apartment block. Cafés are teeming with people. Meaningful green spaces are in abundance. Poor connectivity is a thing of the past. And the vulnerable have been integrated into communities with a mixture of accommodation. Councils have recorded the benefits of change and their planning teams have been at the forefront of the recovery.
Planning services have a tremendous opportunity to implement new policies that reflect social change. This would reshape the lives of many and ensure we are better equipped to deal with future crises.
What can Mondrem do to help?
We want to help you facilitate the change you want to see. We want to help your planning teams cope with the stresses and strains of the new normal. We want to help you capture innovation and connect you with sources of support.
Our next session will be held at 1:00 on 4th May and we will build upon the first session, before offering some of our own thoughts about managing work-in-progress and making life easier.
If you would like to join us, please contact us.