Kirstie and Phil plus Kevin and estate agents with all year round  suntans agree with Jose 

It was one of those remarks by Jose Mourinho that on first hearing you think something has been lost in translation. Never the less you turn it over in your mind because as well as being a controversial figure he is/was a very successful manager, the management gurus ,guru. 

Referring to building a successful team he said, 
“It’s like buying a house-there’s more to it than furniture”.

I assumed he meant that it was not simply a case of recruiting top people but reviewing the structure they operated within. Get the right house then get the furniture to fit.This  got me thinking about the similarities between buying a house and managing a Local Authority. 

Property tv shows are very popular , there is the long running, Location Location where Kristie and Phil  help struggling couples realise that for that amount of money you can either have a big house plus garden in a crappy area or a tiny box with outside space for two deck chairs, but walking distance to  “cafe society” .

There is Grand Design where each week  Kevin introduces us to an eccentric couple who flirt with bankruptcy and relationship breakdown in a freezing caravan, in a muddy field whilst hubby spends three years self building a modern classic/unsightly cowshed with great views.

And the relatively new, to me, early evening A Place in the Sun where the search is on for a cheap home in the sun with access to a pool, near the beach and with great views from a roof top patio. 

Non of these shows focus on the furniture in the house instead they look at knocking down existing structures, removing walls to creat an open plan space, adding an extension, remodelling the kitchen or whether there is scope build in the basement/loft.

It’s the same with an organisation you shouldn’t be focusing on individuals but on  management structure, service organisation, positioning, re engineering processes, investment and rationalisation.

You may be tempted to make some personnel changes, bring in some like minded individuals who will raise the standard but your focus has to be on budget, structure, culture, vision and strategy. If these thing are not sorted then no matter how many top class professionals you recruit progress will stall. 

These house hunting /building tv programs show us the different ways people go about creating their desired property, the compromises, risks and lowered expectations  

required in much the same way as chief executives and council leaders go about transforming local authorities. 

There are LA’s  that need to recognise the compromises that will need to be made. What they want/aspire to just can’t  be achieved with the resources they have. They need to be more realistic about their ambitions.

There are LA’s that let the vision and over ambitions plans risk their very existence,  pushed to the brink of bankruptcy and having destroyed relationships for something that in the end will divide opinion. 

There are LA’s that have been encouraged to think that even a modest budget can get you what you dream of, all you have to do is lower your standards, plan on the assumption there are no rainy days and make the necessary adjustments. LA’s living for to day leaving the long term to look after its self, learning a new language and adjusting to a different culture. 

Like transforming LA’s house hunting is stressful. Like house hunting it can take a lot longer than expected. Unlike the tv shows there is not always a neat ending.

Blair Mcpherson former local authority director, author and blogger 


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