Leadership of place in the age of unreason...

With just over half of 2017 completed, the dystopian choices of 2016 in the US and UK continue to shape a place landscape where leadership and management is increasingly fraught and challenged. 

In the UK we have a Government with no real mandate continuing to pursue and be overwhelmed by the gratuitous self-harm of BREXIT for, effectively, no very good reason, except that 26% of the population expressed some sort of imprecise preference for it in June 2016. And national place leadership - such as it is - has been traumatised by the tragedy of Grenfell and its aftermath.

In the face of national meltdown, leaders of place - local, city and regional - are probably compelled to pursue 'just good enough' opportunism, seeking to ride out the crisis on the crumbs trickling down from Whitehall and Westminster. But they can also choose concurrently to build local cohesion, regional and global collaborations, to address longer term economic, social and environmental challenges.

Better strategic leadership can plan and delivery interventions within and across infrastructure, skills, enterprise, innovation and other themes important to cities and communities. In summary, they can build strong, resilient, tolerant and progressive places.

Working with and augmenting capability in places with these types of ambitions remains inspirational and exciting - it is worth getting out of bed in the morning for!

Globally, dystopia still trumps (literally) utopia. But , for all their weaknesses, North America has a Trudeau as well as a Trump; the EU now has a Macron as well as a May. A Trudeau or a Macron are immeasurably better for real places (and for their nation states) than a Trump or a May. But the local state and partners need to put themselves in a position where they can move forward in both the best and the worst of worlds....

Different visions and models of leadership for our cities and communities...
National leaders - which will be better for your city or community?


Working with those passionate about sustainable economic growth, development and regeneration to...

Define and formulate strategies for delivering vibrant economies in successsful places

Reinvent the way your place is perceived and positioned in the global and national economy

Understand evidence of economic performance and design interventions to improve it

Build the public, private and third sector relationships to achieve tangible buy-in to economic priorities

Strengthen institutional capacity and capability to plan and manage growth, development and regeneration

Mobilise and deploy resources creatively and effectively to deliver your 'big ticket' investments

Third Life Economics, with over 25 years of public policy, practice and leadership experience, can help you to build and then implement tailored, visionary solutions that deliver real economic results. 

Develop progressive and creative solutions to the 'big issues' affecting your area and organisation with Third Life Economics. Follow us @DavidJMarlow on twitter; on LinkedIn, and read my blogs - both personal and at Planning/Placemaking Resources

  1. Strategic leadership and management
  2. Research, intelligence and advice
  3. Formulating policies and programmes
  4. Mentoring and leadership coaching
  5. Enhancing organisational change
  6. Public and private sector networks
  • October 2017: Delighted to be at launch in Palace of Westminster of the ADEPT report 'The route to the highways system of the future- on which I worked in July to September. The potential of digital innovation to transform transport is clear. Hopefully the report will assist ALL places to realise the opportunities quicker and better.
  • September 2017: Unexpected opportunity to go to Caribbean to help British Overseas Territories of Anguilla, British Virgin Islands, Turks & Caicos Islands with medium term Recovery and Development Planning post-hurricanes Irma and Maria. Fascinating experience - including being caught in Hurricane Maria. This Planning  column is a potboiler - with major work to be produced in October and through to end of 2017.
  • August 2017: A couple of 'while we are waiting' (for Government to sort itself out) summer looks at what local leadership teams can develop on devolution and local growth (this LGIU policy briefing) and on spatial planning (this August Planning column). Even - perhaps particularly - with acute deficits in national leadership and direction, there is much that local leadership teams can develop and deliver. Both behind paywalls so get in touch if you wish to discuss.
  • August 2017: Working on LEP/MCA interfaces and the how overlapping district members of LEPs relate to new Mayoral Combined Authorities of which they are not a member. If they wish to have an option to become members for next mayoral elections in 2020, they need to become formal Observers or Associate Members during 2018 - or is it a case of strengthening involvement through the LEP or bilateral LA joint-working?
  • July 2017: Pleased to have agreed and commenced two new projects This month. The first is on the importance of smaller universities in 'anchor institution' and 'civic university' models. The second looks at accelerating industrial digital and technology innovation to future proof the road network. Look for published pieces of work on both later this year, or get  in touch earlier if interested.
  • June 2017: How can devolution make progress given the extreme regional and local fiscal imbalances in the UK? The hyperlinked briefing describes what they are and the profound implications for the future of devolution and local growth.
  • June 2017: What do the new metro-mayors need to do to improve the fortunes and prosperity of their city-regions? And what are the implicaitons for other areas? Some initial thoughts in this LGIU policy briefing
  • May 2017: Latest columns for 'Planning' discuss how the profession can get beyond simplistic debates on housing numbers - with a piece in March on aging demographics; and this month's consideration of wellbeing and sustainability indices
  • April 2017: What 'Tango in Buenos Aires' has to tell us about post-Brexit Britian.
  • April 2017: Lots of organisation development work to be done with local authorities as they begin to plan for new contexxts post-local and national elections in May. Stimulating to work with leadership teams in a County Council  (on 'outcomes frameworks)and a Metropolitan Borough (on growth, regeneration and PR/positioning strategies)
  • March 2017: Very full agenda at meeting of Greater Lincolnshire (LEP) Innovation Council - on response to Industrial Strategy, contributions to Greater Lincolnshire's future approaches and priorities, as well as delivering on and transitioning major EU-funded projects.
  • March 2017: Delighted to be asked to be a judge for the 2017 Planning Awards, and enjoyed the Judging Day, contributing to categories on heritage, culture and SD.
  • February 2017: Great to be working with HEFCE, Robin Hambleton and in Gloucestershire again - this time at their Leading Places workshop on University - LA - LEP collaboration. Have a look at the slides if this is an issue in your areas.
  • February 2017: Took a long time coming - but Government finally produced an Industrial Strategy Green Paper with 38 questions and relatively few answers! Besides the LGIU policy briefing, this also merited a full article in Planning.
  • February 2017: A lot of activity - especially by County Councils - around unitary status. But is this good, bad or indifferent for growth (and for local government) in non-metropolitan areas? My thoughts in the LGIU policy briefing on local government structural reform. Pleased to be assisting a number of local authorities on their considerations.
  • January 2017: With devo appearing to have stalled, interested to be working with Plymouth and neighbours on novel city region and growth corridor approaches to sub-national growth.
  • January 2017: Six global mega-trends that may underpin our assumptions about local growth and development in 2017 outlined in this planning column. Worth some thought and perhaps discussions in the context of the 2017 local growth and devolution landscapes described in this start of the New Year LGIU Policy Briefing, and also these personal musings on challenges facing UK international positioning following May's outline of her Brexit negotiation strategy!
  • December 2016: Exciting to be part of the Regeneris team assisting to refresh the Leicester & Leicestershire LEP Strategic Economic Plan. Contributed to a major workshop on 6th December with local roleplayers to set the scene for this exercise. If you are a stakeholder and wish to get involved,please get in touch.
  • November 2016: It is important that ambitious places refresh their international strategies - even (or especially) when resources are tight and the policy context is so uncertain. This LGIU policy briefing and this Planning column set out the arguments and how to advice, albeit from two differing perspectives.
  • November 2016: The continuing nightmare of 2016 has increased even further with the Trump coup in the US, and his inevitable 'Plot against Europe' with his UK government allies. My trilogy ended with some thoughts on strategies for the fightback.
  • October 2016: Inclusive Growth and regional rebalancing are two related agendas that Planners need to get to grips with - because government is certainly struggling!
  • October 2016: District Councils do much of the local growth 'heavy lifting', but are not always recognised and supported adequately by their LEPs, County Councils and Government. My work at South Kesteven includes huge housing and employment growth in Grantham - their sub-regional centre; leveraging the Stamford 'brand' - one of the premier large market towns in UK; and ambitions for fundamental skills reforms (which strictly is not a DC function). Pleased to be suupporting SKs striking and important agendas.
  • September 2016: Every place needs to be refreshing its local growth goals and priorities in the aftermath of the referendum and change of Government. Immensely enjoyed producing thought piece and facilitating workshop/roundtable with Gloucestershire Economic Growth Joint Committee and partners...
  • August 2016: Great to be working with Mike Dearing of AMEO on the West Midlands Growth Company proposed by the WM Combined Authority - ambitious, challenging, and highly relevant.
  • Summer 2016: Need to think through new models of growth, development and regeneration in the aftermath of the BREXIT referendum - urban policy and cities; industrial strategy; underperforming places; and the rebirth of regeneration. 
  • July 2016: Proud to have launched the University of Warwick Chancellor's Commission final report on the future role of the University in Coventry, Warwickshire and Midlands, for which I was Executive Commissioner. Complements my June Planning column on the potential impact of the HE Bill and White Paper on University expansion and/or contraction in your town or city.


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