Being In the Work and For the Work

One of the principles we think is really important is for our team to find opportunities to be in the work. To gain a true grasp of how to lead change within a given context, it’s really important to have recent or ongoing experience of actually being involved. 

One of the things I love and value is the opportunity to work with Pennine Lancashire and Together an Active Future, where I dedicate three days a week to cultivating and developing systems leadership within Pennine Lancashire. This approach provides a solid foundation for staying current, maintaining a fresh perspective, and being connected and aware of the pressures and challenges that system leaders face on a day to day basis. This ‘on the ground experience’ is proving really valuable when working with other places and organisations, and gives a relevant foundation for offering advice and support. That said, I’m always really mindful of recognising and remembering that approaches need to be tailored to the unique environments and circumstances we find, and often principles are translatable, but not always the initiatives.

Consultancy firms can face the challenge of growing disconnected from the actual hands-on work when their primary role is to provide advice to others. Over time, there could be a risk of speaking more from the perspective of what you’ve observed in others rather than what you’ve personally experienced and achieved. At Miova, we recognise the significance of staying closely connected to the work and we hope that we can hold onto that principle as we move forward. We will actively seek ways to embed ourselves within ongoing projects, working alongside our clients rather than solely advising them on change initiatives in shorter term projects. We probably won’t always get this right, but we’re hopeful and aspirational!

Another important perspective is understanding the way we feel about the work when we are connected to something tangible over the longer term. I think people tend to feel more deeply and personally when the work you’re doing means something to you. The emerging movement toward whole system and place-based approaches needs passionate ongoing advocacy, and I think that connection to actually doing the work builds that passion and commitment to the ‘idea’ and also provides ongoing relevant experiences and personal stories of change.

In that sense, working within teams, whether that be with direct responsibility for a workstream like my role with Together an Active Future, or coaching colleagues in ongoing relationships can help us to be both in the work, and for the work. When opportunities then arise to offer shorter term support for organisations, places or leaders we hope there’s a sense of authenticity in the help and insight the team provides.

Ken Masser

Director, Miova