As this is the first blog for Thames Valley Forum I thought I would start at the beginning with a bit of personal background to why I have launched ‘the Think Tank for the Thames Valley’.

Previously my work plan had been a fairly traditional attempt to climb the career ladder, but I have realised that I am much more purpose driven than that and being able to make a difference about issues that I care about is more important than job titles or salary. I have also realised that I like being able to set the agenda and ensure that my work reflects my values. Therefore I am better off finding a way that I can be ultimately responsible for the direction and success of my work.

When the current situation arose I had some thinking to do about my next steps. I have since read (former no10 business adviser) Jimmy McLoughlin’s blog post on this and I would say he sums it up pretty well.

So having decided to set up for myself and focus on issues I am passionate about; the choice was what and how. Many deliberations and plans followed, but essentially I was guided by the structure of this Venn diagram, which you will no doubt have seen at some point:

My offering (my Ikigai if you like) had to be something I cared about, was skilled at, and that was missing from the world. That thought process was benefitted from my career when I have gone (several times) between being Thames Valley based/focused and London based/focused. I could quite easily identify the great things that I saw in the range of organisations working on the capital and pick and choose which ones I thought would add real value to the Thames Valley economy.

The Think Tank model was a clear missing link and meant I could partner with all of the existing organisations rather than become any sort of challenger. As a purpose/mission focused organisation it is my aim to always add value and avoid duplication.

From that point on it has been focusing on the vision, mission, structure, detail, research and planning. Plus quite a bit of admin as I learn how to run your own company which could be its own blog post (if not whole book) in the future.

The vision and mission are key. I’d recommend a read of Mike Spicer’s blog post where he tackles keeping track of the fast changing world, but at its core is a point that you need a strategic vision (though updated often) to be a “robust framework” and “the priorities should flow from a vision statement”. Mike is going through a similar journey with his business so it’s great to learn from others around you.

And Mike is right, and so that is enough about me and my reasons for wanting to start Thames Valley Forum. From now on I will set out a robust framework, a vision and the priorities that follow. I look forward to working with all stakeholders, policymakers and businesses in the coming months and years ahead.

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