Fit for what?

Posted: 5th January 2017

Mark SweenyThe start of a new year is always a time for reflection.  

I’ve reached that stage of life where I am convinced that the calibration on the scales is completely wrong, everybody is walking far too fast and they simply don’t make trousers in the correct size any more. That, and the fact that I believe that it is clearly the case that policeman are indeed much younger, has convinced my wife that I need to get fit – or at the very least, fitter – to burn off the excess Christmas pudding and halt my imminent plunge into old fogeyism.  Somewhat predictably, rather than cause me to undertake a new exercise regime, this prompted a rather philosophical enquiry: is being fit a goal in itself, or does one have to be fit for a purpose, such as to run a 10K race or climb Mount Kilimanjaro?

However, my paid employment rudely interrupted my musings with a request for some sage prognostication on the outlook for the coming year for those with a strategic and governance inclination – of whom there are many and we are, contrary to expectation, quite good fun at Christmas parties.  Where was I?  Oh yes – anybody who thinks they can predict with any certainty what will happen over the next 12 months has certainly not been paying attention for the last 12 and should probably be side-lined off into some non-decisive role before they do some damage (and preferably kept away from sharp objects and heavy machinery), so there is little or no possibility that you could say we will need to be fit for a specific purpose – because that purpose is inherently unknowable in a volatile and unpredictable climate.

This does not, of course, relate to the overall purpose of an organisation (its charitable objects for example) although it is arguable that the activities of many a diversified social housing organisation are pushing at the margins of what their original founders would have called charitable – but hey ho, that’s a topic for another day.

My reflection would be that being fit is a simple good in its own right, so when the storm hits, at least you will be able to bend with the wind or run for cover as appropriate – or celebrate your good fortune by noting that life feels just a bit easier when you’re fit. So, dust off the value for money strategy, tweak your internal controls, check your cashflow, make even better friends with your partners – and treat that stress testing as the vigorous workout that it actually is. Then, when the Social Housing Regulator Version 5.0 turns up at your door you can give them that easy, confident smile so beloved of Weight Watchers adverts (other slimming programmes are available) in the sure and certain knowledge that you’ll get a gold star and a tick. Then you can get back to the real purpose – the delivery of high-quality, affordable housing.

And finally, be excellent to each other – and party on dudes! (Aka – maintain those high scores in your interpersonal skills section of the governance self-assessment).

Happy New Year.

You can contact Senior Consultant Mark Sweeny on 07887 512165 |

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