Stepping Out NOW            May 2014
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'Brand Mutual' has had a bad month or two due to record losses and mismanagement at the Co-op.
What's the learning here for the new Public Service Mutuals? And how do we respond to the damage this has caused?
Firstly the learning. The Co-op had terribly complicated governance structures that few people outside the Co-op understood. The effect was to dampen accountability of the Board to its owners and members. Thankfully, most spin-outs have kept things quite simple and have boards which report back at sensible intervals to a staff or members' council and take soundings whenever something important comes up which needs immediate input from the membership.
In essence, this is the John Lewis approach to governance and one which the majority of spinouts have wisely followed.
For new spin-outs the learning is to find a pragmatic balance between staff involvement and executive leadership.  Got right, it means your business will, like John Lewis and unlike the Co-op, be both commercially agile and engaged with its workforce.
Secondly, how do we limit any damage to Brand Mutual? The most important thing to say to critics is that the problems in the Co-op were not caused by the company having an engaged workforce with a stake in the business. If anything, the opposite was true. The Co-op's board did not, in any meaningful sense, reflect the aspirations of the Co-op's now-vulnerable 90,000 workforce and millions of ordinary Co-op members. If it did, the story might well have been a different one.
The truth is that mutuals are, by and large, successful, stable and safe businesses precisely because the lines of accountability are clear and people in the business are highly engaged in its success. This is indeed the case in most public service mutuals, as attested by the success of so many already, like Stepping Out client Provide CIC who last year won a coveted National Business Award.
Our hope is that any damage to Brand Mutual caused by the Co-op will be short-lived and lose traction when set aside the tangible successes of an ever growing number of spin out public service mutuals.
But we all need to get the word out there!

-- Craig
Stepping Out are partnering with the Local Government Association to deliver The Entrepreneurial Council II the perfect event for local authorities who are ready to take on the challenge of improving services and reducing costs.

Tickets are free!
On the sofa…

This month, we hear from Alison Reid, who has recently joined spin-out Community Dental Services as its CEO...
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Ask the Expert
Fiona Kerr is an Associate of Stepping Out with eight years of experience as a CEO of an advocacy charity. 

What is good organisational culture and how do you achieve it?
I read a quote years ago, which was: "Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." – Confucius. It resonated instantaneously and made me quickly realise that I have to know that whatever I am doing in my career I am still learning and I am making a difference.
This leads me to think that for an organisational culture to be good, ideally everyone has a job they love and that they enjoy.
Leaders have a tremendously important role where every single day they influence and can determine their organisation’s culture. Additionally everyone in an organisation can embrace and enhance their organisation’s culture too. It is therefore important that people are encouraged and enabled to develop and reflect so they understand their own values, drivers and strengths and can apply them to embracing and contributing positively to an organisation’s culture.
On reflection I have seen that the most successful, engaging, participative and innovative cultures are demonstrably and visibly led by people who enjoy sharing their values, ethos and ambitions with all those involved with the organisation. I have seen that such leaders clearly convey their vision, energy, motivation and ambition. They must confidently lead everyone through the tough times while also celebrating individual and organisational achievements and success.  
The most successful organisations, and those that are the most attractive to high calibre employees, appear to be those where their leaders create and nurture a clear culture that is easily communicated and understood, which can be embraced and is engaging for everyone. This ensures an organisation is what it says on the tin so satisfaction is high and success is enduring.
Fiona Kerr - 

Of Note

Stepping Out helps client secure contract worth £11.7M.
Francis Maude visits Leading Lives in Suffolk.
Local Partnerships launches Technology Spin-out Fund to support public sector spin-outs.


Good Reads:

Craig Dearden-Philips considers the departure of Lord Myners and looks to the brighter side of public sector cuts
The Big Bang theory: how social investment can go mainstream
UK’s transforming rehabilitation plans sideline pioneering Peterborough SIB
‘Under promise, over deliver’ top tips for potential investees
Payment by results ‘undermines innovation’


The Public Sector Show
Unlocking Social Finance
Supporting SMEs to win local contracts

Support and investment to grow your business
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