Innovation Exchange Programme

Innovation Exchange Programme

NLGN are thrilled to announce topics that their popular Innovation Exchange programme will cover next year.

Unique to the sector, these day-long events are 100% peer led. Participation is exclusive and free to NLGN members. The confidential and safe environment, expertly facilitated by NLGN staff, encourages senior officers from across the country to candidly and constructively explore the challenges they face. Participants return to their council with fresh ideas, useful contacts and a deeper understanding of the issues for which they have responsibility.

In 2020 we’ll focus on the following topics:

  • Better Jobs for Local People
  • Freeing up Staff to Innovate
  • Measuring Impact and Improving Performance
  • Making the Member-Officer Relationship Work
  • Using Deliberative Forums to Engage and Mobilise Your Communities
  • Working with Central Government
  • Leading Partnerships to Transform Place

Better Jobs for Local People
Councils across the country are increasingly facing up to the challenge of delivering local economies that are both vibrant and inclusive. Creating a labour market that not only delivers jobs but good, well-paid and secure jobs is a central pillar of meeting that challenge. Councils are also recognising that the benefits of better employment go well beyond the economic: reducing demand for services, improving well-being and enhancing social cohesion. By contrast, weak and exclusionary labour markets can have seriously damaging effects. This Innovation Exchange will explore what levers and techniques councils can use to create stronger labour markets in a context of limited resources and powers.

Suggested attendees: Those with strategic responsibility for economic development, place, regeneration, growth.

Freeing up Staff to Innovate
Staff autonomy is not just about employee well-being. Councils are recognising that innovative, entrepreneurial and responsive organisations only emerge when staff have the permission and support to take decisions for themselves. Councils are also recognising that it is only those types of organisations that will survive in an increasingly complex, fast-moving and demanding world. But shifting from a hierarchical and process-driven culture to one where staff are trusted to assess risk and make the right decisions is much easier said than done. This Innovation Exchange will explore what approaches councils are using to free up staff, create an innovative culture and manage the associated risks.

Suggested attendees: Those with strategic responsibility for corporate strategy, organisational transformation, human resources, innovation.

Measuring Impact and Improving Performance
A strong understanding of impact and clear methods to act on that understanding is always a key feature of the most successful organisations. Councils have long understood this but recently there has been a shift away from measuring outputs or targets towards efforts to recognise and reflect on genuine outcomes and delivery of change. This shift can be powerful in driving up impact but often requires a major change in organisational behaviours. It can also be challenging in service areas where inspectorates still work with process measures. This Innovation Exchange will explore both what methods councils are using to measure genuine impact, how they implemented a shift to a new approach and what they are doing to ensure that findings feed into continuous improvement.

Suggested attendees: Those with strategic responsibility for corporate strategy, organisational transformation, performance, measurement.

Making the Member-Officer Relationship Work
Little can be more damaging to the success of a council than a negative relationship between senior members and senior officers. On the other hand, a positive, focused relationship can drive real change and improved outcomes. As such, no council can afford to overlook strategies to improve and maintain the health of member-officer relationships particularly in an era of growing political volatility, social media interaction and resident demands. This Innovation Exchange will explore how councils are getting ahead of the curve to ensure positive member-officer relationships in a rapidly changing time.

Suggested attendees: Monitoring Officers and those with strategic responsibility for corporate strategy, member relations, organisational transformation, performance.

Using Deliberative Forums to Engage and Mobilise Your Communities
Residents are increasingly demanding a meaningful say over the decisions taken by councils. And councils themselves are increasingly recognising that engaged residents are a fundamental element in any plan to deliver better outcomes and reduce demand. The use of deliberative forums are growing in popularity as a way to meet these goals. Initiatives range from large-scale citizens assemblies to smaller neighbourhood meetings based on consensual deliberation. When done well, these methods can transform the relationship between council and residents and generate positive change. Done badly, however, they can deepen resident alienation and damage staff morale. This Innovation Exchange will explore how deliberative techniques can be used to maximum advantage and how to avoid the many pitfalls.

Suggested attendees: Those with strategic responsibility for corporate strategy, community engagement, organisational transformation, service redesign and specific policy/service areas subject to deliberative processes.

Working with Central Government
Central Government is inevitably a major factor in a council’s success. Whitehall is home to funds and powers that can either help unlock transformation and impact or stymie ambitious plans for change. Ministers and MPs also play the chief role in setting the terms of public debate and the regulatory environment within which councils must operate. But at a time of volatility and uncertainty unprecedented in recent times, how can councils make the most of their relationship with Government? This Innovation Exchange will explore how councils are securing funds and support from civil servants, ministers and MPs in a difficult political environment and how they are equipping employees with the skills and mindset to build positive relationships.

Suggested attendees: Those with strategic responsibility for government and political relations, fundraising, corporate strategy, policy and research.


“Do not miss an NLGN Innovation Exchange – I came back to my council with fresh insights, practical ideas for implementation and a brand new network of people in exactly the same boat as me” Joanna Ruffle, Director of Transformation, Southend Council