Better scrutiny of failure ‘could mean more commercialisation success’

12 Jul 18

Negative aspects of commercialisation could be avoided with more scrutiny of failures, a consultant told the CIPFA conference on Wednesday.

Commercialisation “can often have negative connotations” Alix Bedford, risk relationship consultant at Zurich Insurance Group, explained in a workshop entitled The ethical and social impact of commercialisation.

“When things go wrong, we do not spend enough time looking at why,” she said.

Bedford said that the sector “could be better” at sharing lessons learnt from commercial failures as the sector deals with “an explosion in commercialisation”.

She also said as councils were moving towards more commercial practices they must strike a balance between social value and profit making.

Robert Weaver, deputy chief executive at Tewkesbury Council, who also spoke at the session, said councils had started to focus more on the social value of commercial activities.

New ventures were “all about social and community value”, he said.

He also noted that local authorities felt commercialisation had become a necessary step.

“Lots of local authorities are saying if we don’t go down this route [of commercialisation] we are going to have to cut frontline services,” he told the conference.  

Bedford suggested councils should use commercialisation to have a regular income stream rather than making a huge profit.

“Return of your money is more important than return on your money,” she told the conference.

Zurich Municipal is working on producing a toolkit for councils looking to make sound commercial decisions, Bedford said.

She told the audience “watch this space” for a ‘non-financial risk framework’ aimed at helping authorities with their commercial ventures.

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