Chair's Blog


Vision and Strategy

I seem to be eating, drinking and breathing BASW at the moment, and now I’m blogging it too.

We had a Council meeting last week, since then it’s been all systems go for the AGM on 29th April, once again at that wonderful London Symphony Orchestra venue, St Luke’s on London’s Old Street (I think they will have sorted out the lunchtime queuing issue this year). We spent a fair amount of time at Council hearing about the findings of the recent member consultation, as well as receiving the results of the other consultations we had set in train, via our committees and the BASW staff team. This has produced a rich picture of what is important to BASW members and the direction they want the Association to be going in. So the task we have on our hands now is to turn these findings into a coherent and compelling vision and a workable strategy that will help to realise this – that we can share and invite comment on at the AGM.

I love the idea of a vision, and I continue to be appreciative of the Black Country branch’s motion to the 2013 AGM, calling on Council to produce a vision for the future of BASW. I have discovered that the word ‘vision’ can mean different things to different people though, and in different contexts. As a solution-focused practitioner I spend a lot of time helping people to produce detailed visions of their desired futures – usually by describing them in words, though drawing actual pictures can often help just as much if not more. Within strategic planning in business and organisational contexts, however, a vision usually refers to a one-sentence-long statement, and this has taken me a while to get used to.

However, having set about the task of deciding on the ‘vision statements’ to be tested in our consultation, and reading the comments of members about their favoured statements, the value of this brevity and directness has become clear. One of the statements was a clear ‘winner’, but it would be a plot spoiler to say which one here. We will be publishing our draft vision and strategy in advance of the AGM, so watch this space.

As well as eating, drinking, breathing and blogging BASW, I’m reading it too. I’m halfway through Council member Terry Bamford’s Contemporary History of Social Work, and it’s not a plot spoiler to say it is absolutely superb. I have just finished the chapter on neoliberalism and social work, and I am very tempted to get hold of a copy of The Social Work Business, by John Harris, which Terry lists as ‘Further Reading’ at the end of the chapter. Along with many other social workers, I’m sure, I feel queasy to say the least about social work becoming suffused with business principles, and yet isn’t BASW itself a business? This is at the crux of what we have to resolve, I feel, and I think myself that the resolution lies in the wording of the Black Country branch’s motion, which calls for the vision for the future of BASW to be that of a member-led organisation.

Well, later this week I will be in Paisley in west Scotland for the Social Work Action Network conference – I hope that time will allow for a blog post from there – looking forward to it!



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