January 04, 2010

Regeneration Attitude

On New Year's Day I wanted to get out of the house for a bit and went for a walk. As is often the case in such time, I found myself drawn down to the river. As I neared the Pier Head, I passed this poster, stuck up by the North-West Development Agency (the regional regeneration quango) to help hide an ugly old concrete building awaiting demolition and remind us of the good work they're doing. (Just as an aside, the much more attractive stripey building to the left of the picture is the old offices of White Star Lines, owners of The Titanic).

NWDA poster on the Strand, 'We Make Big Things Happen'

I've seen it before, but this time it struck me that the choice of language sums up what irks me about the whole regeneration question.

We make big things happen.

People of Liverpool rejoice. The NWDA is sorting everything out for us. At best, this sends the message that the inhabitants themselves don't need to do anything because the NWDA is taking care of it all. That's lovely, but what happens if the government decide to scrap the RDAs?

At worst, it steals the credit for any improvements from the people responsible and presents it all as the work of the NWDA.

This is one of the classic signs of a bad manager or a bad leader, and it's particularly disappointing for a regeneration agency to fall into the trap. Surely the ultimate sign of success for a regeneration quango is to make itself obsolete? And to do that it needs to empower and lead the people to where they realise they can do it themselves - not to hoard any scraps of success under its own flag.


Posted by Adrian at January 4, 2010 12:16 PM | TrackBack

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couldn't agree more. And, on a separate note, have you ever been to their offices? Oh my god. It's like Minority Report in there. They certainly make big things happen when it comes to their gaff.

Posted by: dave at January 5, 2010 10:30 AM

Thanks for the comment Dave. I haven't had the pleasure of visiting their offices, and if they read this blog I suspect my invite might be a while coming ;-)

Posted by: Adrian at January 5, 2010 11:40 PM
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