Monday, 11 July 2011

Put the G first

Today I started off a meeting with my Director, Nick Kavanagh, and the senior regeneration team with a quote. The quote was taken from "Coaching for Performance" by John Whitmore. It goes, " Goals formed by ascertaining the ideal long term solution, and then determining realistic steps towards that ideal, are generally far more inspiring, creative and motivating." John Whitmore is describing the GROW model, designed to help individuals make decisions about their work or life and how to improve their performance. The GROW model is widely used to help a person to increase their awareness of their situation, take responsibility for their decisions and to make progress in the challenges that face them. Simply put, one learns to start with the Goal one wants to achieve, looks at the Reality of the situation and where one is starting from, examines the Options in front of one and commits one's  Will to take action. The order of the steps  avoids the danger of deriving one's goals from where one is rather than from where one wants to be. One's goals should be kept in mind as one overcomes the limitations of the present reality rather than one's goals being shaped by them.
Regent Road heading towards the Bascule Bridge
Regeneration is about Vision and while reality may impact on the actions one intends to take they should not lead to the abandonment of that vision. The effect of getting this process in the wrong order leads to limitations on both Vision and Action. This is all too prevalent in local government decision making.
Some months ago the management of the Port of Liverpool came to me with serious concerns about the state of Regent Road. This is the main road leading to one of Liverpool's most important industries, fundamental to its character and a foundation stone of its econonomic success; the Port of Liverpool. The proposed Post Panamax development at the Port offers the possibility of restoring its the kind of status it has historically enjoyed. However, the road to the Port has, over many years, been virtually abandoned and the lack of attention to it raises significant threats to the success of the Port.
The Napoleonic Wall along Regent Road
The reality of the situation is Liverpool has £3 million per year to spend on roads . With many priorities to deal with I was initially told that Regent Road was 15th in order of priority . I hasten to add that this list of priorities was based on a sound analysis by officers taking account of many threats to the functioning of Liverpool's strategic highway network and was in way at all a list determined by any kind of whim. However, it did mean that if this reality was to determine the goal then Liverpool would get round to dealing with the condition of Liverpool's Dock Road in fifteen years time. As little had been done over the previous 12 years of the Liberal Democrat administration, and as even a perfect new road is only expected to give up to 20 years major maintenance free use, then one can hardly dare to think what the state of this vital economic artery would look like after a further 15 years.

Computer Graphic of Proposed Post Panamax facility
My response was was to revisit the Goal element of G-R-O-W. My goal in this situation is to keep commerce flowing in Liverpool as the basis of a vibrant economy. The reality of the situation is that we have limited finance to deal with all our priorities. The option chosen was to ask officers to look again at the order of priority and take the economic impact of not taking action into account. The action was committed to and undertaken: the result? well you'll have to wait for the press announcement.

Now as for Sefton Park! 12 years of letting the R determine the G has led to crumbling road infrastructure. Can we possibly put the G first this time?