Five themes from the day

Martin Horton took on the task of summarising the conference into five themes. Martin said he had personally really enjoyed being at the conference and had witnessed great energy, passion and ideas.

Throughout the day Martin jotted down quotes from what he had overhead or from conversations he really had. Some examples were:

“What’s brilliant about what you’ve done is you’ve opened up the conversation”

“In 16 years attending conferences this is the first time I have heard such a positive discussion”

“It’s the community that is delivering, not the Town Council”

“It’s really inspiring-opening up to create a virtuous spiral”

“A surprising difference with a small amount”

“The simplest things are the best solutions”

“Out of the chamber and onto the streets”

“We help things to change, not because we decided it was a good idea but because others wanted it and they owned it”

“It’s people that make places”


  1. Mind-set, “are you setting out to be successful or setting out not to fail”. Allied to issues of confidence, degree of need to feel in control and tolerance of risk.


  1. Questions, the importance of “why” and who – knows, cares can and will
  • Penetrating questions that drill down and explore nuances
  • Challenging questions that stimulate debate and difference of view
  • Open ended questions to fuel imagination
  • Analytical questions to distinguish what we think from what we know
  • Asking questions and engaging because we genuinely want to know versus asking questions to lead people to a point we’ve already decided.


  1. Power, breaking the patterns that hinder progress. Identifying and challenging the “Master/Servant” positions that get taken up. Awareness of where we also replicate this behaviour towards others when we perceive that we are in the “master’ position. Working to be build “Servant/Servant” relationships to build common cause where the “Master” is the individual, citizen, client, family, street, community or challenge being addressed.


  1. Leadership, “it’s amazing how much you can achieve when you don’t mind who gets the praise” Harry S Truman. Creating and promoting opportunities, innovating, facilitating, sponsoring and persuading others to bring their resources to bear to meet the challenges we face.


  1. Allied to, the multiplying effect. “The grant we gave was itself multiplied by a power of 10. Being open and proud of the precept and highlighting the difference it makes. The use of seed corn monies to help things start and happy to see where things get to rather than trying to control every outcome.

Martin summarised by saying it was significant to him how much can be achieved, not by having the control or direct capacity but through a culture of looking out and to others. Not just seeing the challenges we face through the prism of what we do/have always done but through finding and engaging with those directly affected and encouraging/supporting them to find better approaches and ways forward.


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