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Suffolk and Norwich Chiefs on their learning from peer challenge

Deborah Cadman (Suffolk CC) and Laura McGillivray (Norwich CC) have both recently been involved in peers reviews. The reviews proved an opportunity to learn and devlop their own thinking, as well as an opportunity to share great ideas. Here are their thoughts on being involved: 

‘Being part of the peer challenge in Durham was a fantastic opportunity to develop my own skills and experience whilst challenging, providing support and learning from another authority. Seeking the views of frontline officers was a great way to develop fantastic solutions to some of the more challenging issues experienced by the County.

The peer challenge model is an effective way for local authorities to give external challenge to each other around issues that they define.  Durham County Council had identified economic development and community engagement to be addressed in this way.

Whilst working through these issues in Durham I was able to reflect on the approach of my own authority in Suffolk.  Economic development and community engagement is complex for a large rural County, made more difficult during the worst recession in 70 years.

Durham’s approach is area action partnerships and innovation – and they have successfully engaged over 5000 people in this way.  Although this is not the only answer for Suffolk there are things we can learn from their approach.’ [Deborah]

‘Our experience at Norwich opened up my view on my own skills in a different way.  In the past, I’ve been on numerous structured development opportunities – from formal qualifications, conferences and our own management development programme.  Although this was useful in making me think about my development in a more formal way, I found that when Norwich had its own peer challenge and when I reflected on my own peer experience, I can see how it helps to further grow a Chief Executive’s ‘softer’ skills.

You can imagine you know your organisation but it’s very easy to delude yourself. The peer challenge is an excellent way of checking out and adjusting your perceptions. The great benefit of a review is honest, open feedback, both from the team itself and from partners via the team. Our challenge gave a great boost to the organisation and the confidence to move forward positively.’ [Laura]

‘Back now in my own authority [Deborah], my main challenge is to bring back some of my learning from last week back into my own organisation.’

Deborah Cadman                                        Laura McGillivray

Chief Executive                                           Chief Executive

Suffolk County Council                              Norwich City Council


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Filed under Learning and development, Peer Reviews