Roundtable Event for the District Councils Network

DCN Network Round Table Meeting Chaired by Chief Executive of Lichfield District Council, Simon Fletcher
DCN Network Round Table Meeting Chaired by Chief Executive of Lichfield District Council, Simon Fletcher

Author: Simon Fletcher – Chief Executive Lichfield District Council

Last week, I had the privilege of chairing a ’roundtable’ event for the District Councils Network in London. Joined by sponsors Capita, this gathering brought together senior officers from various sectors to address pressing topics, share best practices, and devise innovative solutions.

DCN Network Round Table Meeting Chaired by Chief Executive of Lichfield District Council, Simon Fletcher

DCN Network Round Table Meeting Chaired by Chief Executive of Lichfield District Council, Simon Fletcher

The theme for this particular roundtable discussion was ‘building organisational resilience,’ which directly tackles the issues that councils like ours encounter in today’s landscape of limited funding and growing resident expectations. I am proud to say that our reputation for disruption and fresh perspectives has been gaining recognition across the sector. In fact, I have had the opportunity to speak at multiple events and conferences, shedding light on this issue as well as related topics such as workforce development and leadership over the past 18 months. I believe the reason they appreciate my presence is that I bring an element of risk – you never quite know what I might say next!

During the roundtable, we focused on four key themes that outline how councils can effectively respond to the challenges at hand. These themes encompass:

  1. Building a strong, reliable, and skilled workforce that can swiftly adapt to changing priorities.
  2. Creating flexible structures capable of responding to unexpected events and fluctuating demand.
  3. Utilizing data to forecast changes in demand and developing strategies to respond accordingly.
  4. Embracing new technologies to alleviate some of the strain on resources and capacity.

I am proud to announce that we are leading the way in many of these areas, and witnessing the reactions of other councils, whose responses are not nearly as radical, to our work has been truly inspiring.

Late in 2021, we launched our transformative ‘Being A Better Council’ program. In consultation with the Leader of the Council, we contemplated how we could become a council that not only shapes our region but also fosters regeneration in Lichfield and Burntwood, fulfilling the needs of our communities. We recognised that radical and sustainable change was imperative. Since then, we have charted a course to become an organisation that is Resident Centric, Commercially Minded, Data & Performance Driven.

To achieve this vision, we made strategic investments in cutting-edge technologies such as AI and Robotic Process Automation (RPA), enhancing our digital infrastructure with improvements to our telephone system and website. Additionally, we prioritised data-driven decision-making and became the first District Council in the country to develop a social progress index, providing measures of wellbeing on a ward basis. Concurrently, we restructured the council’s services, injected new leadership skills, and implemented a robust performance regime.

Whilst doing all of this we recognised the importance of investing in our staff, both in terms of leadership and training, as well as their sense of belonging and overall well-being. Through these initiatives, we have achieved significant progress in enhancing our organisational resilience.


Here are some of the key measures we have taken:

  • Creation of new teams and leadership roles to streamline operations and enhance efficiency.
  • Focus on staff development and acquisition of new skills, resulting in a substantial cohort of apprenticeships covering areas such as business analysis, data management, and robotics.
  • Embracing and celebrating inclusivity, encouraging staff to express their authentic selves in the workplace.
  • Establishment of a Talent Acquisition Service, enabling us to attract and recruit top talent.
  • Abandoning rigid ‘core time’ requirements and implementing flexible monitoring systems.
  • Introduction of a commercial performance management regime, specifically Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), to provide clarity on performance expectations

Meeting other councils merely invigorates me and makes me doubly determined to continue the journey of development to bring about change and progress that truly benefits our residents.

I am looking forward to sharing more of our evolution in the coming weeks and months.

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