Shan Morgan: collaboration is enshrined in Welsh law – here’s how we’re doing it

Written by Shan Morgan on 28 June 2018

With nominations open for the Civil Service Awards 2018, the Welsh Government permanent secretary and collaboration category champion outlines the main ingredients needed to break down silos

Photo: Louise Haywood-Schiefer

From the cross-department events that make up Civil Service Live to the Welsh Government’s Public Service Summer School, this summer has provided a number of opportunities to come together. By spending time with colleagues from other organisations we can share examples of where we’ve supported ministers to make a real difference in our communities, learn from each other and make important connections for the future.

Effective collaboration makes or breaks policy development and delivery but with ever increasing workloads and pressure on resources, how do we make sure it’s a regular and sustained way of doing things?

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In Wales, the requirement to collaborate is actually enshrined in law. Our Well-being of Future Generations Act requires public bodies to think more about the long term, work better with people, communities and each other, look to prevent problems and to take a more joined up approach. I’ve been focusing on developing the skills, capability and ways of working to take forward the Welsh Government’s strategy of ‘Prosperity for All’ and to meet the challenges and opportunities ahead. I think of this as ’future-proofing’ the organisation and identifying ways of meeting our commitments to involving others and joining-up has been at the heart of that.

At the start of this term, our first minister spoke directly to our whole executive band to set them the challenge of breaking down silo-working and doing things differently to benefit the lives of people in Wales. It was both inspirational and motivating. I appointed a wellbeing of future generations champion to the board who in turn leads our assurance group that looks at integration and partnership working. I’ve also paired the director leading each of the five priorities of our national strategy with a director from another portfolio area to bring a different perspective to their thought process.

Leadership is vital to successful collaboration and I brought all our Senior Civil Service together for a workshop to inform the development of our recently published integrated and long-term plan for health and social care. These are just some of the ways we’re collaborating internally and we’ve been using some of those techniques with colleagues outside the organisation too.

One example of where cooperative and joint working is making a big impact is in the work of our ‘Valleys Taskforce’. This is a ministerial led group looking at how investment in the South Wales Valleys can be delivered in a joined up and strategic way and firmly based on local insight. It’s an innovative example of thinking and acting collaboratively and collectively to respond to the specific needs of a community.

More broadly, public service boards are an important vehicle in Wales for collaboratively driving delivery at a local level. We’ve been working with all major stakeholders across Wales to develop the ‘Future Trends Report’ to help public sector policy makers plan better using available data and tools.

I hope I’ve conveyed how fundamental I believe collaboration to be – I’m thrilled to be the champion of that category in the Civil Service Awards for the second year running. While I hear about examples of best practise from my permanent secretary colleagues every week at our regular meetings, I think it’s even more powerful to hear those directly involved in good practice sharing what they’re proud of. If you’ve got an example of excellent collaboration you think should be recognised and that others could learn from – put in your nomination by 25 July.

Nominate now for the Civil Service Awards

The Civil Service Awards Community is a new section on Civil Service World that aims to celebrate past winners, inspire people to nominate in 2018, and help us all to learn from good practice. If you’ve ever won or been shortlisted for an award, register your interest to hear about future events and projects for awards alumni

About the author

Shan Morgan is permanent secretary at the Welsh Government and category champion for the Collaboration Award