Unions21 – encouraging you to think strategically for the way ahead

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unions21Is it just me, or does anyone else gets the feeling that strategic planning has a bit of bad reputation in unions?  Especially in difficult times (like the present) we are generally too busy “doing” to take the step back that strategic planning is assumed to need. Too busy with the necessary task of stopping a fire spreading to be able to put it out.

Then there is the iconography of the whole process – experts from outside who seem to know little of the industrial reality, away-days in what are traduced as posh hotels, glossy presentations to executive committees, slightly less glossy roadshows to regions, sections and branches, all culminating in wordy report that gathers dust on its journey into folklore.

However unfair that summation is, I’ll bet most readers identified with it. And the reason for such deeply embedded suspicion is, in my view, the inorganic nature of these exercises. They come from outside our organisations, prosecuted by strangers perceived as having no enduring empathy or interest.

This certainly is a problem, because most organisations, our own included, can suffer of not being able to see the wood for the trees, of not pushing the envelope of our comfort zone, of circling the wagons when things get tough.

So how can we break out of such cycle? I would suggest that seeking refuge in strategic plans needs to be replaced by strategic thinking within the organisation.

In my book, it is simply a matter of asking ourselves two fundamental questions about each and every decision we make:  How does this increase our influence? And how does this increase our capacity?  If what you’re considering doesn’t make an impact on those two points, chances are that you shouldn’t proceed.

The twin elements of capacity and influence are what underpins all of Unions21’s work and our conference in London on 21 March will be an interactive showcase – the opportunity to engage with some of the most innovative thinking about the key issues facing the movement – from the future of work, to what “good work” looks like, to how the movement can withstand the vicissitudes of Brexit.

A line-up of key thinkers and plyers will be present, to share their thinking and debate the alternatives. These include Frances O’Grady, Keir Starmer, Tim Roche, Becky Wright plus leading academics Nick Anstead and Tony Travers.

I hope you will be able to join us. All the details including how to register for the event are here.

  • Simon Sapper does media and engagement for Unions21 
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