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Posts Tagged ‘Philip Larkin’

In his poem Love Songs in Age Philip Larkin writes about ‘that much mentioned brilliance, love’ promising to ‘solve, satisfy, and set unchangeably in order’.  With behavioural change fast becoming the hottest topic in local government, there might be a view that councils are over-reaching themselves.  In seeking to make a reality of our community leadership role and promote health and happiness, are we straying too far from our core responsibility of ensuring high quality value for money public services?  Are we trying to solve every social ill , satisfy every expectation and in creating sustainable communities, set everything in perfect order?

Earlier this week at a London Collaborative event, a number of London chief executives met to discuss among other things a pilot project focusing on encouraging behavioural change – specifically encouraging people to lead more active lifestyles.  Paul Martin made a presentation at the event about the project and I have posted his slides in the CoP’s library.  

Of course councils can’t make people lead more energetic lives – we don’t have enforcement powers (yet!) to compel couch potatoes from sofa to gym.  But in many ways this is the attraction of the behavioural change agenda.  It means that we must engage with our residents and see partnership working not just as something we do at an organisational level but as something that happens at a neighbourhood level with ‘real’ people.

‘Nudge’ by Robert Thaler and Cass Sunstein attracted a great deal of attention last year, with its theory of designing ‘choice environments’ that make it easier for people to choose what is best for themselves, their families and society.  I guess a key issue for councils that want to take forward the behavioural change agenda is working out what the choice environment might look like say for promoting active lifestyles.  What are the nudges that might work?  Reward card schemes, one of the options being explored by London Collaborative, would clearly fall into the ‘nudge’ category.

Larkin wasn’t the most upbeat of characters, and Love Songs in Age concludes that love did not fulfil its promise in the past and ‘could not now’.  But I think councils are right to be ambitious and seek to tackle behavioural issues in a positive way.  It may be in less time than we think that the serious ramifications of a life spent tapping on a keyboard come home to roost…

In his poem Love Songs in Age Philip Larkin writes about ‘that much mentioned brilliance, love’ promising to ‘solve, satisfy, and set unchangeably in order’.  With behavioural change fast becoming the hottest topic in local government, there might be a view that councils are over-reaching themselves.  In seeking to make a reality of our community leadership role and promote health and happiness, are we straying too far from our core responsibility of ensuring high quality value for money public services?  Are we trying to solve every social ill , satisfy every expectation and in creating sustainable communities, set everything in perfect order?

Earlier this week at a London Collaborative event, a number of London chief executives met to discuss among other things a pilot project focusing on encouraging behavioural change – specifically encouraging people to lead more active lifestyles. 

Of course councils can’t make people lead more energetic lives – we don’t have enforcement powers (yet!) to compel couch potatoes from sofa to gym.  But in many ways this is the attraction of the behavioural change agenda.  It means that we must engage with our residents and see partnership working not just as something we do at an organisational level but as something that happens at a neighbourhood level with ‘real’ people.

‘Nudge’ by Robert Thaler and Cass Sunstein attracted a great deal of attention last year, with its theory of designing ‘choice environments’ that make it easier for people to choose what is best for themselves, their families and society.  I guess a key issue for councils that want to take forward the behavioural change agenda is working out what the choice environment might look like say for promoting active lifestyles.  What are the nudges that might work?  Reward card schemes, one of the options being explored by London Collaborative, would clearly fall into the ‘nudge’ category.

Larkin wasn’t the most upbeat of characters, and Love Songs in Age concludes that love did not fulfil its promise in the past and ‘could not now’. But I think councils are right to be ambitious and seek to tackle behavioural issues in a positive way.  It may be in less time than we think that the serious ramifications of a life spent tapping on a keyboard come home to roost…

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