WIG CEO Blog January 2020 - A Look Back at 2019
Looking back at 2019, it seemed like a rollercoaster. The term ‘challenging times’ is probably overused and clearly relative (the collapse of the manufacturing industry, mass unemployment, fear of nuclear exchange, rampant inflation and recession of the early 1980s, for instance). Nevertheless, 2019 was a difficult year characterised by complicated politics, shrill voices, business risk, lack of trust and uncertainty. We witnessed the testing of constitutional boundaries, while emergency contingency plans made a transition from on-the-shelf to off-the-shelf several times. There were, of course, some happier by-products. The adrenaline boost to the understanding around trade deals, supply chains and planning can benefit a number of scenarios. Happily for WIG, who has been operating in this space for 35 years, there was also a broad acceptance of the necessity of communication between the public, private and NFP sectors. On the downside, until December this year investment uncertainty will no doubt continue affecting people almost everywhere.
Throughout all of this, WIG has continued to focus on its purpose of building cooperation, understanding and learning between the sectors. Early last year we refocused on the themes of Brexit & International, Environment & Climate Change, Technology & Digital, Economic Growth & Prosperity, Infrastructure, Society, and People and, across all these, the Industrial Strategy. WIG delivered value to our members through 120 events from briefings on preparing for Brexit with Kent County Council, to over 200 individuals experiencing development in a cross-sector environment, ranging from early careers up to Director General level and the private sector equivalent. We brokered nearly 100 secondments into UK based not-for-profits, charities and social enterprises and assisted the appointment of NEDs in organisations as diverse as the Office of Legal Complaints and the Army and Navy boards. Throughout the year, WIG also arranged organisational ‘raids’, a one-day exchange of best practice, designed to deliver whole team development to learn from another sector (we brokered knowledge exchanges between Met Police and BAE Systems, OU and Drax, and Browne Jacobson and ONS). We also initiated a shift in focus towards smaller and more consultative gatherings, enabling experts to engage with their cross-sector counterparts; an increasing feature for us in the year ahead.
There will be as much to do this year:
- The urgency of EU negotiations and the importance of reference between the public sector and business and commerce, as well as the voice of the NFP sector;
- The climate emergency agenda and the importance of COP26, not least acknowledging the increasing importance to businesses of ESG;
- The opportunity of AI and the potential of a UK intellectual role, kicking off with WIG's first-ever AI Collaboration Forum on 7 February;
- The future of work, including productivity, wellbeing, diversity and inclusion;
- The challenges of infrastructure, the technical revolution and productivity.
All these are subjects ubiquitous in nature and around which discussion, cooperation and comparison is beneficial for all. At WIG, we take huge pride in these interactions which yield positive and tangible improvements. It’s why we continue to do what we do: providing a neutral and safe space to bring the right people together on the right subjects in the right way.