Take-Aways from #LocalGovCamp 2015

Consolidating my thinking and in a spirit of sharing …

The Right Conditions for Digital

Paul Brewer (@pdbrewer) pitched a session about the Right Conditions for Digital (see his blogpost) based on his experience at Director of Digital and Resources at the very interesting Adur and Worthing.  This could have been a longer session.  Paul is clearly enjoying the extent to which he is making progress in his new role, but knows enough to realize that some of this progress is down to some untypical circumstances which apply there.  This is in contrast to common trait in local government which is to assume that “the good results I am achieving are because I’ve got my stuff together and if only people would just have the sense to copy me all would be well”.  Some of the Beacon thinking and indeed some of the Awards schemes potentially fall into that trap.

Paul is smart enough to reflect on what is going on, and to tease apart the ingredients for success.  That he adopts that kind of reflective approach is almost certainly one of the reasons he is being successful, it seems to me, and not something he himself mentioned – so I am saying it here.

Paul’s blog hints at some of the unusual circumstances at A&W, and in the discussion we reflected on the fact that the new Chief Executive at A&W early on created a very compelling vision for the council encapsulated in a document Catching the Wave – I think that anyone wanting to make change happen in local government should read this.  It’s a masterpiece.  And by securing agreement to it a space has been created that is the right shape for innovation.

I was interested to know whether the fact that Adur and Worthing are two separate councils with one shared management team acted as a brake on innovation and it seems not – the level of integration between the teams is very high.

I’m always keen to put the level of innovation which a council exhibits in the context of the resources it has and the financial pressures it is under – and I have some data from an external source which gives a rating for the level of stress that councils are under.  Both Adur and Worthing are around about the middle of the pack in terms of financial pressure – their success is not (for example) because they have loads of spare cash and are burning it up!

There was also a bit of a discussion about how it is possible to make the case for IT – which is perceived as a back office cost to be minimized especially when front-line services are being cut.  The back office/front line language really doesn’t help – it is far better to use language that reflects that the right “back office” spend – eg on the right sort of “digital” multiplies the effectiveness of the front line, and multiplies the effectiveness of the council in the community.  The Resources Directors Network, of which I am a part, wrote a report about the Future of the Corporate Centre which uses the language that is used in the army for support functions to the front line.  They are referred to as “force multipliers” which you have to admit is a better name than “overhead costs”.

Governance Challenges of Devolution

Ed Hammond (@cfps_ed) led a discussion about the governance challenges of devolution.  In great Localgovcamp style that brought together people with diverse perspectives and interests, including some insights into Amazon anthropology (the place not the online retailer) as well as knowledge of a range of devolved models an devolution bids.  It’s interesting how unconsidered this all is – there is a lot of detail still to be filled in about how the deals (which have been hammered out behind closed doors due to the speed imperative) will be governed, scrutinized, and how they will engaged with their relevant populations.  It is a blank sheet.

It was interesting to reflect that while there is a central government preference for an elected mayor, with the success of the London model in mind, no-one is requiring the scrutiny and accountability mechanisms which London has – ie the Greater London Assembly, Mayor’s question time etc.  In a way that’s not surprising – it’s a costly operation and repeated referenda have shown that there is little public appetite for a new layer of politicians – but it does mean that we need to think through the accountability mechanisms, and I am pleased that Ed and the fabulous Centre for Public Scrutiny are going to be doing some work on this.

The local media can be a mechanism for holding to account, and it’s interesting to spot that whilst some of the combined authority areas have a “natural” local paper (eg the Manchester Evening News in Greater Manchester) there are others that do not.  It will be interesting to see how the practice of different Combined Authorities is affected by different levels of coherent press scrutiny.

Uberising Rural Travel

Adam Walther (@adamwalther) from FutureGov led a session about rural transport – whilst there is much excitement about app-driven  disruptive entry in terms of things like Uber, and more gently with things like CityMapper, these focus on urban areas and relatively wealthy people.

There’s an interesting set of issues around whether the technologies can support different models of transport – eg a dial-a-ride that takes someone to a bus stop rather than to the ultimate destination.  There may be scope for deploying community resources – eg minibuses with volunteer drivers, car sharing – if there can be some way of surfacing the currently hidden demand for services.  We see what people do, not what they would ideally want to do.

The FutureGov work is clearly at an early stage but I was fascinated to hear about the transport systems in Helsinki where there is a deliberate design intent to make car ownership irrational.  “Mobility as a service”.  Thought provoking stuff.  There’s a Guardian piece about this, and it’s one of my main takeways from the day.

An Open Data Session that I Enjoyed

Simon Redding (@simonredding) from the Environment Agency did a session engaging a select but enthusiastic band of folk around discussing how Defra should prioritise making all of its datasets available.  I really enjoyed a session about Open data that was about thinking about creative uses of data, and thinking about where to land the ideas, rather than … the usual session that seems to happen about Open Data!  For those interested a jumping off point to find out more is on GOV.UK here  though there is clearly an opportunity missed to put an advert for analytics software on that page*.

*(An on the day in-joke).

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Devolution: The end of Localism?

(This is a bit of thinking out loud in an entirely personal capacity)

In future times as we look back on the process of devolution now beginning, we may see that this was the point at which localism came to an end.

This may seem contradictory – surely devolution is a decentralising force and therefore utterly consistent with localism?

Localism is in the eye of the beholder.

Because I did some work a couple of years ago on a scenario planning exercise called “The Four Futures of Local Government”, and because a number of local authorities and their senior teams were kind enough to invite me in for a discussion about it, I have had the chance to discuss localism with very bright and committed people in a range of different contexts, and to confront with them:

  • the natural tendency to see the optimal point to which power should be ceded to be coincidentally exactly “my” level, wherever “I” happen to be
  • the apparent simplification of issues the lower something is cascaded – for those to whom the cascading is happening – but the tremendous fears of loss of control and accountability to those further up the chain, with an explosion in aggregate apparent complexity and non-standardisation as issues are cascaded lower.

It’s all about managing complexity.  If we are thinking about devolving health to meet social care, for example, (which is something I’m thinking about for a variation of the four futures exercise, currently), the complexities (and natural footprint) of a health economy appear to be something which needs a larger area than that of many local authorities.  The devolution of health is welcome, but I feel that as health comes down to sub-national areas, that social care may have to aggregate to meet it.

I am becoming aware of some smaller authorities who are seriously considering a degree of aggregation of their child and adult social care services with neighbours, in order to achieve the scale that is needed, and this feels like a more powerful force than the pressures to take health to an even lower level than, say the current CCG level.

If this is true, and we’re going to see the combined authorities, with their elected mayors, becoming superpower-authorities with significant sway over economy, health and social care – and possibly benefits and local taxation, over time, then the complexities at that level will be hard to push down further – not because the vision will be lacking, or because the concept isn’t appealing, but simply because the practical politics, and the sheer administrative/organisational burden, will be so high.

Will this be better than the current system?  I believe it could be – I am a localist, I am willing to simplify at the sharp end and accept the ambiguity and complexity which this will bring to the higher-ups.  But I am disappointed that we may find the decentralisation getting stuck at such a high level.

A possible solution which might break through that will be a focus on personalisation, and/or user centred design.  If the process of achieving joined up solutions can do an “end run” from the combined authority to the individual, or to the individual family, skipping over the intermediate layers of local government and other local administration, then this may give us what we need, overall: remorselessly efficient and highly relevant, joined up public services for the individual.  Combined authorities will, I hope, have the scale and firepower to undertake proper user-centred work, collaboratively with the user community, and coproduced with them, in order to achieve this in a way that steadily denuded local authorities may not.

These thoughts are what I am hoping to test through observation, and hands-on where I can, as Devo rolls on.

What do you think?

Observations of a World-Class Team Leader

Recently I went to a musical performance by the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra conducted by Gustavo Dudamel.  My seat was in the choir seats behind the orchestra and I was right in the middle so I was directly opposite the conductor and therefore able to see exactly what he was doing in leading the team that is his orchestra.  Dudamel is lauded as an inspirational conductor, though there are some who prefer their conductors grey and more mannered.  I hugely enjoyed the concert, and I hugely enjoyed watching closely as Dudamel did his thing.  It really was a masterclass in team leadership.

When I watch a concert from behind the conductor (as is usual) or on TV, it sometimes feels as though the conductor can’t possibly be leading the orchestra – or not that much anyway, perhaps just giving the beat and key stop and start signals – to some extent it feels as though they are dancing along to the music rather than shaping it.  Watching as closely as I was able to this week, there was a tiny but perceptible gap between an instruction from the conductor and the relevant thing happening – I became more aware than ever before of the rich extent to which conductors (or, this one at least) has a profound and direct effect on the orchestra, on the split second behaviour of 100 skilled and attentive people.

It is a bit of cliche in the management literature to study orchestras as teams, usually in contrast to the style of say a jazz combo.  But I am going to add some observations of this specific conductor, on this particular day, that felt interesting – some of them may have wider relevance, in certain circumstances.  Some of the leadership points are very obvious!

Expressive, modulated, leadership using every tool available.  Dudamel used the whole of his body and an extraordinary array of facial expressions to communicate.  He missed no opportunity to convey his intention.  At times his movement was huge, his facial expression massively contorted, but at no point did it feel over the top, partly because the extent was always directly linked to the need.  For one really quiet passage he – quite literally – conducted the beat with the smallest movement he could do – he conducted the orchestra with his eyebrows

Conducting as though nobody is watching(!).  As a result of this massive expressiveness there were times when he looked really very stupid and undignified indeed!  A freeze frame shot could have been entered into a caption competition.  At one moment his bottom half was doing something like a “Frank Spencer ‘Ooh Betty'” while his top half was going three different ways at once and his eyes were popping out.  And of course nobody did laugh because the results he was producing were extraordinarily good.  A great leader, he only gained credibility from taking a personal presentational risk.

Knowing when not to lead.  There is a short, lovely and important oboe solo in the first movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony.  Uniquely during the performance, for this section, Dudamel did nothing.  He stood, smiling respectfully, poised and waiting for the oboeist to finish before bringing everyone else in.

Stopping, waiting, and starting.  In between movements at a concert there is silence.  On this day I was able to detect three distinct silences, one after the other.  There was the silence that is necessary for a couple of beats once a piece has ended, there was the restful silence that was between pieces, and there was the preparatory silence just before things got going again.  These stages were signalled by Dudamel’s body language, and holding the baton straight up against his chest during the middle silence.  This made me wonder whether we do enough to allow that pause for reflection once something has finished, a moment of rest, and then a reflective pause before starting again.  In a concert the total length of the silences is about ten seconds, and I don’t think it need take much longer than that in a work context.  I think some meetings would be greatly enhanced by these three pauses between agenda items!

Individual attention in a crowd.  There were probably about 100 people in the orchestra, yet there were times when Dudamel gave very specific individual attention to one of the players.  Never for more than a few seconds at a time, he gave undiluted attention at particular key points.  His arms kept things going for the rest of the orchestra but his face – and you felt, his attention – were utterly focused on making eye contact with one person.  He would smile, or widen his eyes, or do something, which conveyed a sense to the player concerned – you could read it “now then, like that time at rehearsal that I was happy with” – a quick smile of thanks when the performance was delivered and then on to the next.  Do we give 100% focus to individuals when they need it, even fleetingly, or do we get distracted by the wider task?

Credit.  Dudamel was very generous with credit to the players.  He did the usual conductorly thing of inviting soloists or groups of players to stand and take an individual bow and receive specific audience applause.  But more than others he went to them where they were sitting and he BEAMED at them, shook their hand or patted them on the back.  Apart from the initial applause when the conductor turns round to take a bow, whenever he came back to take more applause he invariably did so from within the body of the orchestra, with his arms around some of the players.

In some of the social media traffic around this concert a friend mused about how Dudamel gets such extraordinary performances.  This is how.

(The specific concert I listened to is/was broadcast on Wednesday 14th January 2015 at 9pm.)

Deja Vu All Over Again

I am personally inspired by the folk who are driving forward the LG “”Digital”” agenda in multiple ways, through events, blogs, tireless work and at significant personal cost in terms of time, and, um … cost.

From several local gov camps and similar, and much tweetage there seem to be a whole set of recurring themes around getting this stuff to break through into action. Again.

There is an emerging realisation that something higher-order than good work in one or more authority is needed. And various attempts to create organisational forms that will take things to the next level. Again.

All of this dialogue, though eerily familiar, is actually incrementally useful in trying to put our fingers on the question of why this isn’t yet breaking through the way we’d like.

I don’t know the answer to that, but here are some thought pebbles to set spinning across the pond of “”digital”” discontent.

  1. Maybe it is breaking through but we’re just not seeing it! Maybe what’s coming through is the result of the sheer grind of compromise and risk aversion that is almost inevitable in organisations which are (think about this) – local monopoly providers of essential services which are publicly funded, which are democratically accountable, and politically rationed in a hostile scrutiny (small or big s) environment.  Tough context!  Those things are like the weather – we can’t change them, we have to wear appropriate clothing. So maybe the progress we are seeing is brilliant, maybe it’s as good as it gets, maybe it’s going to take a shed load longer than we think, and maybe we don’t have to beat ourselves up so much. Maybe. I think it’s worth considering.
  1. Councils are different and becoming more different all the time. Localism rocks! But it works against standardisation, and it means that partnerships for eg joint development need to be chosen with care. The innovation need, capacity, capability, leadership of councils varies considerably, even if in other respects they seem pretty similar, or are conveniently close. In some of the recent tweetage I pointed people at slides 6-13 of this. I think we need to have language for understanding the differences between authorities and their contexts. I think we also need to accept that the best thing might be to give up on 95% of councils and work with the smaller number who want to innovate, and currently have the capacity and capability to do so. Let’s beam a small group “coalition of the willing” down onto this new planet, and hope that our council isn’t the one wearing the red shirt. (Note to self, do I need to explain Trekkie references to this audience …)
  1. Controversial one this. Perhaps we need to think about going where we can do most good. This might mean taking a super-honest look at one’s current authority and acknowledging that you could do more good somewhere else, somewhere that’s playing with a better hand of cards. Or somewhere that demonstrably gives an actual stuff. That might not be practical for some people given family circumstances or bonds of loyalty. But it’s a thought. What if we could get all the localgovcamp people working for the same council! Well actually it would be an unmitigated disaster but you get the underlying point, I hope. To add extra controversy to this point I will take my life in my hands and say that a lot of people I talk to decided to stop working for a council but stay passionately involved in local government by stepping out as freelancers, establishing or working for companies, and found they could do more good that way (despite enduring the ever so funny jokes about the dark side, and not getting invited to things any more – or asked to pay – but let’s not go there).
  1. Do we care about it enough to get our hands dirty to make change happen? I did some sessions at PS Launchpad about this sort of stuff for example this and this. One of the reported reasons why corporate services professionals in local government (eg IT, HR, Finance) often don’t want to get promoted to Corporate Director roles is that they will no longer be able to represent the interests of their tribe – they may have to make decisions which compromise the purity of the vision. I’d love to see some of the LG “”digital”” folk say “right, I need to get to be a chief executive ASAP, then I can sort it”. That wouldn’t actually work as a strategy but the people trying it would learn so much in the process. Many years ago I was a manager of analytics consultancy types in a discipline called operational research and I wrote this paper called “wearing your clients’ shoes” – anyone fancy working with me to update it for “”digital”” in local government?

(Note: In this blog I have put “”digital”” in double quotes to signify that I am loosely referring to people and concepts which are currently aligning themselves with the word “digital” but which in my mind have very little to do with technology (either digital or analogue) and which therefore risks massively confusing means with ends, but happens to be the only flipping label we have currently.)

Recruiting for Commercialism

This article, which appeared under the name of myself and Veredus colleague Evelyn Dougherty, was first published in the MJ

As we travel around the country visiting a diverse range of local authorities it is clear that “commercialism” is on the rise.  We are often asked about the practicalities and pitfalls of recruiting people with commercial backgrounds.  Cross-sector expertise can make a huge difference to authorities, but  fundamental questions need to be asked before the recruitment begins, not when the candidates are in front of a panel, and especially not when the shiny private sector implant has failed to live up to expectations.

Start by understanding why is commercialism important to you? We think there are (broadly) four reasons why authorities want to be more commercial – (1) to generate profit to offset the effect of cuts (2) to change the culture of the organisation in good ways (3) to support becoming a “commissioning council” and lastly (4) to be better able to understand and support business in your place

In terms of generating profit start by checking that everyone is really aligned with this – some authorities are even nervous about the word and use convoluted phrases like “net revenues” or just “income” because the P-word has corrosively negative connotations in the culture.  If this is you then your issues may go deeper than simply the absence of a commercial director type, and it is hard to imagine the whole organisation getting behind an initiative to take on other service providers and win.  Which brings us to another taboo subject – the notion of competition.  A lot of people really like the collaborative nature of public services and it can be deep in an organisation’s psyche, but if you are going to enter a traded service marketplace, say,  then you need to compete and win – there is no prize for second place, only wasted bidding costs.   This also has an impact on what you need to pay to get people – there is no point in recruiting someone to lead your profit generation if they simply get ticks in the person specification boxes but aren’t actually good enough to lead a win.  Moreover you will need to commit council tax-payers money to marketing and business development at a time when you are almost certainly making headline-worthy cuts elsewhere.  We think there is huge potential for authorities to become more commercial, but that aspiration needs to be more than one person deep.

The issue of cultural change is one that we hear quite a lot.  There are many admirable features of good commercial organisations – responsiveness to changing customer needs, quick decision-making, innovation – that many people, often especially elected members, contrast negatively with what they sometimes see in local authorities.   This one needs challenging, thoughtfully.  Public and private organisations exist in a completely different context – local authorities are regulated as monopoly providers of important publicly-funded services – they are hugely scrutinized and accountable, with very high requirements for consultation and with measured, transparent decision making.  There is no “private sector pixie dust” that can completely overcome this.  So the cultural aims are good ones, but realize that achieving them will require fundamental rethinking of the organisation, up to and including Overview and Scrutiny.  Councils that wish to be commercial have an interesting choice about whether to try to create the commercialism from within, or to place it in some kind of arms length body.  It would appear that the arms length route seems to be working better in terms of achieving the commercial objectives, and cultural change within the arms-length folk, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into culture change in the core.

Commercialism is undoubtedly important to commissioning councils.  This is most obviously true on the provider side – the parts of the organisation which are asked to behave as providers, and in many cases to compete and grow their business elsewhere.  However it is also important that the commissioner side is commercially strategic as there may not be well-developed markets for some of the services they wish to commission, so markets may need to be created.   Really smart commissioning will not only lead to service improvement but it can boost the prosperity of the place as a whole, which brings us on to the fourth benefit of commercialism.

Empathising with the needs of local business will be a useful side-effect of greater commercialism.  We often find that well-intentioned council officers don’t seem to understand the impact on small businesses of cashflow – we have seen big procurements split into small lot sizes in the hope that this will attract small local business – but the duration of the procurement and transition phases have such high up-front cost requirements against an uncertain return that no entrepreneur could risk it, and they might not be able to afford it even if they knew they were going to win.

Once you are clear about the nature of commercialism in your authority and what you are seeking to achieve the recruitment will become much easier.  In our experience there are many well qualified folk in the private sector who would actively enjoy working in the public sector (though there are also an annoying number of people who think it’ll be an easy life).  Recognise that you may need to find ways of being creative about salary, or finding other benefits that someone may value – many commercial folk live out of a suitcase so there is a huge family benefit in a council role.  Review your recruitment processes, especially early on in the cycle.  The private sector recruits differently.  One council had a standard application form which was a huge turn-off for private sector candidates, it confirmed all of their worst fears about penpushing bureaucracy.  We ran the initial process on a “letter and CV” basis and did the standard form only at the shortlist stage when we could explain the reasons for it.  Above all think about the induction and integration of people into the council.  Help them to succeed by pointing them at people who have made a successful transition.

The CIO at the Top Table?

(originally published as a Veredus blog here )

In an article this week on Government Computing I drew out some points that had emerged at the Socitm Conference in 2012 with conclusions for 2013.  In particular I mentioned that:

“The role of the IT profession within local authorities’ wider change agenda got some attention. Many of the people and process skills of change are baked in to the way that IT operates, yet many CIOs report a lack of recognition and traction in their authority, perceived as ‘techies in the server room’ rather than as change executives. How will the profession reposition itself – is the issue awareness or is there substance to address also?”

In this context it’s interesting to speculate on some of the blockages experienced by ambitious local government IT professionals who aspire to larger general management roles in due course.

• The Director of Resources Role.  The “obvious” career path for someone in IT towards the chief executive position is via the corporate director of resources role.  Often, elected members want an accountant for this role, and combine it with the statutory “section 151” role.  The legal requirement of the s.151 officer mean that it is advantageous to have the senior finance professional at the top table, and, understandably, especially in the current climate, members often want the best Finance lead they can get.  Not all authorities have a financially-qualified director of resources, but since many do, this narrows the pipe for IT professionals to progress.

• Reluctance to be “Corporate”.  I have detected in some individuals a sense that in order to progress to a corporate position one has to take on positions which will decide against the interests of the IT Department, albeit for the greater good.  I sometimes hear people talk of individuals who have done this as though they have betrayed their calling and turned their back on the profession (I exaggerate slightly to make the point).  The strong culture of IT as a profession and of IT departments therefore works against those who wish to leave.

• Career development.  It is relatively easy to develop a career focused on IT.  The challenges are real, fascinating, and continually changing.  There are well structured opportunities to network with colleagues in IT in other councils or other organisations.  Those role models at the top of the profession, are, by definition, those who chose to stay within it. By contrast it is harder to develop the networks for a future chief executive or resources director – where does one go to network with HR professionals, finance folk, policy wonks, lawyers…

There is a strong parallel with the HR profession, who often have similar debates about achieving top table status.  It is my experience that where the HR Director has a place at the top table it is (almost) invariably because of the particular strengths of the individual, rather than the job description or the post structure.  The chief executive and senior colleagues want the individual around the table because their input is known to be valuable, and not just in their area of formal responsibility.  Unfortunately there is a bit of a vicious circle about this – without opportunities to gain a corporate/strategic perspective it is hard to add value to it!  It is an interesting challenge for the profession (if it wishes) to seek opportunities to inculcate, and support their members who wish to develop, this wider perspective.

Building a Platform for Evidence Use in Local Government

This blog was originally published on Demsoc’s Open Policy Blog.

I attended the “Informed Future” workstream at the 2012 Solace Summit, and whilst I won’t try to give a blow-by-blow account I want to share here some of the key things which emerged, for me.  There is a lot of hard work at many levels required before Local Government in general can be really effective in this domain, and unless we progress each of the strands simultaneously the process will take much longer than it needs to.

Two statements of principle (to give us purpose)

– A rigorous  evidence-based approach will be essential for tackling some of the huge issues we face – especially long-term multi-agency preventative interventions. We have early examples which are tremendously encouraging – the work of the Dartington Social Research Unit looks especially strong in that regard. A lack of robust needs-based segmentation means that many folk are given services that are not aligned with their needs and so waste resources (arguably “Troubled families” are an extreme example of this).

– Evidence is not in opposition to judgement or democratic choice. Evidence informs both, but can only ever be one input.  It was startling how often in discussion even quite well-informed and senior local government folk appeared to regard evidence as being something which removed the possibility of judgement or democratic input.  It speaks to the lack of a culture of use that familiarity with a notion of democratic objectives and judgement giving rise to research questions which require interpretation and the addition of yet more judgement and democratic input does not seem well established.

Two things that Chief Execs can do in their authorities (to help it happen)

– develop a culture of use of evidence. This may mean a critical self-appraisal of their own comfort to engage with this, and the skills needed around them. Recruitment and personal professional development decisions in the next few years should all bear in mind a need to lead by example with emphasising the value of information. This is about incorporating and developing the evidence base into a coherent narrative of the organisation that it is the job of the CE to co-produce with members. There is almost certainly an opportunity to draw on public health expertise in this area.  A small step councils could take would be to add a box for “evidence base examined” to the many other pro forma boxes such as “legal implications”, “equalities impact” etc on their formal public decision-making committee reports.

– support data improvement.  Even if we resolved all of the cultural issues immediately we would be hampered in our ability to apply rigorous evidence by data quality and data sharing issues.  There are technical people in our organisations who are trying to resolve these issues; they should be sought out and supported – small investment over time will have a big impact when we need it to tackle the really wicked choices for our communities beyond 2015

Two issues for the Sector (that need to be handled at that level)

– We need to begin a discussion about use of evidence and engage/educate in issues around how we will test interventions. We need to get upstream of issues such as the ethics of control groups, randomised control trials so that when we are actually ready to do these things, this doesn’t suddenly become the constraint.

– We need to back LARIAThe Alliance for Useful Evidence, “what-works centres” etc as central repositories of research knowledge and expertise. Their results won’t be perfect first time, but there are some areas where we really cannot afford to have each authority in the country developing its own overview of all relevant research, and there must be benefits of collaboration.