Our report “The role of councils in developing Local Industrial Strategies” included Action Learning Sets designed to help the Local Government Association better understand the role of councils in the development of Local Industrial Strategies (LIS) and to support councils to initiate or further their engagement with their LIS. The use of these sets enabled councils to collaborate in real-time to address similar issues by bringing together a total of 24 peers from those organisations to exchange ideas and experiences.
These sessions helped establish that a council’s ability to participate fully in the LIS process hinges on the quality of the relationship between the council and the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP); and for areas where there is scope to strengthen this relationship, the LIS development process presented a vehicle to do this.
The success of the programme enabled us to bring the group back together a year later, supporting the attendees through three more sessions on their wider economic development work.
In the summer of 2020, we applied our trends and scenarios methods to support Surrey Library Service in considering the kinds of needs their communities may face over the coming decade. With a small group of managers, we documented well-established trends and drivers of change (e.g., population ageing, digital technology, housing growth) alongside highly uncertain factors such as economic growth levels post COVID-19.
With the same managers we then used these data to create evidence-based scenarios to test strategies for their public library services and wider cultural offer. This was an inexpensive but impactful way for managers to apply trends data and their own tacit knowledge to test potential strategies against multiple ‘new normals’. Our work consisted of a two-part workshop, informed by service-specific data, with the background evidence and resulting scenarios documented using Miro (a kind of digital whiteboard) so it could be easily shared internally.