Opportunity knocks!

Many councillors will be familiar with their council’s corporate risk register, where threats to its core functions and financial health are identified and actions taken to mitigate these risks are detailed. 

This is a totally necessary and responsible activity for any large public organisation that is charged with delivering vital local services. 

There is a danger, however, that this reinforces the risk-averse culture that can exist in many councils, with an emphasis on playing it safe and giving an undue weight to risk avoidance – rather than taking opportunities.

In June, Sheffield City Council passed a resolution to establish a ‘corporate opportunities register’, to balance the attention given to risk and opportunity. 

The motion, proposed by the Green Party group, said: “That to act as a balance to the corporate risk register, there should be a corporate opportunities register, detailing new funding opportunities, partnership opportunities and initiatives that will help deliver the council’s objectives, such as supporting those affected by the cost of living crisis.”

So, what might a corporate opportunities register look like? 

First, you need to identify what the opportunity is.

 Is it funding you can bid for from government or other sources? Is it a partnership with another organisation that might help you drive efficiencies and deliver better services? Is it a new activity that can help the council achieve its aims or generate an income stream? 

Demonstrating that we are aware of opportunities is important”

Not all opportunities we could take should be taken. Perhaps the likelihood of success is low, or the effort expended simply not worth it. 

But demonstrating that as an organisation we are aware of and tracking opportunities is important. 

It builds confidence and shows that officers and members are keen to look beyond the council’s own resources to achieve its goals.

The real gain from establishing a corporate opportunities register is to show that the culture of the council is outward facing, ambitious for its people, entrepreneurial and dynamic. 

Surely that is something we would like all our councils to be?

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