The end of a chapter

As some of you will know, things are changing at Urban Forum and we have been exploring how we can respond positively to the changes going on around us (both positive and negative).

You may have seen our discussion paper looking at how we might try and combine Clay Shirky’s ideas of ‘cognitive surplus’ and creative collaboration with Beth Kanter’s networked not for profit, to establish a new distributed network approach. (The discussion paper is here if you’re interested).

We don’t quite know what this means yet or where it will take us, but we are trying to be progressive and focus on developing something new, rather than desperately clinging on to the past.

One of the implications of our adopting this new model is that (in my view) there is less need for a chief executive who does the things I am paid to do. Rather than employing someone to represent the organisation externally, we ought to be mobilising our members and employing people to ‘oil the wheels’ – help connect and support groups to collaborate.

I also think that having been a ‘traditional’ CEO for the last eight years, it would actually be difficult to change people’s perceptions of how I/we work. For that reason I have made clear to the board my intention to leave Urban Forum from the end of July.

I am leaving the organisation in good hands with a fantastic staff team, a committed board of trustees and an astounding group of members. It will not be easy, we know that, but I hope the organisation will respond to the challenges it faces with resilience, creativity and positivity as has been the case throughout the time I have been there.

When I leave I will be, well, I don’t really know precisely what I will be doing. I am committed to continuing my work at Lambeth Council one week per month helping them to implement the Cooperative Council vision and I am chewing over a couple of ideas, but I am definitely on the lookout for interesting opportunities and things I can usefully contribute to.

If you come across anything you think might be up my street, do please send it my way…. And of course I will continue to make a nuisance of myself on twitter and such like.

It has been an honour and a privilege to work for a fantastic organisation and with such wonderful people over the last eight years. I have also been hugely humbled and overwhelmed by the masses of kind and generous comments I’ve received since people have heard the news. As I said on twitter earlier today, if only half the praise I’d received were true, I would be some sort of superman for the voluntary and community sector.

Thank you all so much

ps this decision was not, as Third Sector have suggested, due to government funding cuts, but about how Urban Forum can develop a progressive model of supporting community action.


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