A gender conscious approach to addressing grand challenges in Scotland and beyond …

We often hear the term “a unique Scottish approach” but what does it mean? Well, Scotland is distinctive, does things differently and is bold in its approach. This includes building a fairer and more inclusive economy.  Can we pursue growth and do this in such a way that we all prosper – our natural environment, our people and their communities and the part we play in this? I would argue it’s a “yes but …” and I’ll tell you why I hold this view.

Click here to read more on the Global Goals website.

Scott Semple (CHAS – Children’s Charity) offers his thoughts on the ‘Leadership in Board Governance’ short course

Here is a link to a blog posted by Scott Semple (Director of Organisational Development at CHAS –  Children’s Charity) who offers his thoughts on the ‘Leadership in Board Governance’ short course and his three tips for getting on board. Scott was a great to have around, so much experience and had so many thoughts on ‘good governance’. He also achieved a solid distinction! Yes.

You can find his blog here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/back-university-never-again-he-said-scott-semple/

Guest blog by @juliekhutchison – reflecting on #trusteehour 3 on ‘What’s the standout positive reason you’d mention as to why someone should make it their resolution for 2018, to become a charity trustee.’ 

Our first #trusteehour for 2018 on 16th January opened with the question: ‘What’s the standout positive reason you’d mention as to why someone should make it their resolution for 2018, to become a charity trustee.’  This thread started early on:

The theme of skills, both new and existing, continued.  It’s clear there is a two-way street – new skills to learn, and your skills to share with others:

Looking at other perspectives, and ‘how to be’ around the board table, this input from @ClaireGibsonEDI points to the value of generous listening:

This is a crucial point worth reflecting on, and might stand in contrast to the ‘day job’ experience where we might operate differently, always in quick solution mode and not necessarily listening in the same way. It brings out that element of deliberation and decision-making (trustee activities) versus execution and doing (more like the day job).

The thread moved on to what new year’s resolution you might make for your contribution to a charity board this year.  @RummleGumption made this this point, set against the backdrop of Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018:

And to round things off, this poll was posted by @DavidRobb22 asking ‘Why be a trustee’? 

It’s an interesting debate – to what extent passion for the cause is a main driver for a trustee.  Can too much ‘heart’ and not enough ‘head’ pose a risk for a charity?  The same would be true in reverse, and it seems a healthy tension between these two factors may be an ongoing feature of charity board decision-making:

If we think about recruiting new trustees, what we can take from this #trusteehour is that there are a range of messages which charities might want to consider, in attracting new board members.  There are different drivers, and caring about the cause, being interested in learning new skills, meeting new people, and having a positive impact in your community may all matter, as well as other aspects.  If too much emphasis is placed on trustee duties and responsibilities, and less on these other positive elements which many people feel they get out of the trustee experience, is there an opportunity to re-consider how trustee role vacancies are advertised?

And finally, news of our next #trusteehour on Wednesday 21 February 8-9pm – we might see you in Glasgow!

Blog by Julie Hutchison
Founding Editor of @InformedTrustee

Join us for the Leadership in Board Governance short course starting in March?

Are you board ready? How might a board position provide an opportunity to give back, grow and get ahead? Do you value diversity of thought and reflect on your contribution to good and effective governance?

If the answer is ‘yes’, then why not join Edinburgh Napier University’s short course: Leadership in Board Governance (LiBG).

The LiBG course provides a valuable opportunity for existing board members and senior staff to enhance their contribution to good and effective governance.  The course includes four days of sessions between March and May. Provided by academic, practitioner and guest speakers including a board simulation, reflective practice and peer mentoring.

Our next intake is March 2018 and spaces are now limited. You can find out more and download an application form here. This is what our last cohort said about the course:

Karen Gribben, Senior Legal Counsel (Routes) at Rail Infrastructure Limited and Board Member at Wishaw and District Housing Association (WDHA) “I think the course has been outstanding. I think that if you think you know governance, you don’t, and you need to come onto this course. It will really challenge your thinking. It’s not just for charitable or trust organisations. Directors would really benefit to understand how they can work more in partnership with their board.”

Alasdair PerryDeputy Assistant Chief Officer at Scottish Fire and Rescue Service “I’ve found the course valuable and I would strongly recommend it to others. It’s given me a broader perspective of working on a board, and a greater understanding of how to work with the board at my organisation.”

Jacqueline McCutcheon, Corporate Services Manager at Patrick Housing Association “I’d definitely recommend the course. It’s beneficial in terms of understanding responsibilities of board members and trustees, as well as business within a wider context.”

The LiBG course is bought to you by the International Centre for Management and Governance Research (ICMGR).  You can find out about a host of initiatives, events and research that we conduct in the area of leadership in board governance here.

Digital leadership & digital inclusion for trustees, employees, volunteers & our service users (blog capturing the last #trusteehour)

Our second #trusteehour focused on talking about digital leadership & digital inclusion for trustees, employees, volunteers & service users. This topic was nominated by @TheRichDB, Operations Director at @citizensonline1 for #DigitalInclusion, Trustee at @thectsbrighton for tackling #homelessness. @JulieKHutchison opened the session by asking: how do you balance inclusion with making effective use of digital when it comes to beneficiaries who are excluded from the latest tech?

You can see all the tweets by following the hashtag: #trusteehour

Firstly, it must be noted that the participants to #trusteehour are probably digitally literate! So, we must frame the discussion in terms of the 12.6 million of the adult UK population that lack basic digital skills and 5.8 million people have never used the internet, according to a recent House of Commons Science & Tech committee report. This report was aptly titled the ‘digital skills crisis’. This has implications for charity operations and reaching out to beneficiaries as well as the skills that we bring into the boardroom. Of course, there are opportunities to reach and have a meaningful engagement with new communities but often we are attempting to reach those that may not be digitally literature. We can’t simply divide the ‘young’ with the ‘old’ as @trusteeleaders highlighted the fact that many older people are tech-savvy and many young people can surf in various social media channels, but might not be picking up the digital skills necessary. I often hear in terms of getting young professionals on board that “they can use social media and help develop a website”. That’s not all they can do and we must remember that they are full members of the board. My 80-year-old bowling partner, Murray, can teach me a thing or two with his iPad (as well as always getting closer than me to the Jack)! He has family in Australia, so knows every trick to maintain his relationship with them via emerging technology.

@TheRichDB captured the essence of the discussion when he said: “it’s important to design digital around the needs of digitally excluded people – not just because it’s ethically right, but because it can open up new opportunities to create a better service”.  The discussion moved from the digital skills needed for the board, to recruitment and then onto measuring the success in terms of reach and engagement.

Firstly, there were many calls for all board members to have digital skills, although it was noted that a good first step would be for one person to be a ‘digital champion’ (e.g. @zoeamar, @trusteeleaders).  In @David_McNeill straw poll of 19 participants, 63% suggested the need for a ‘digital trustee’ and 37% that ‘digital’ should be the ‘responsibility of all’. Many cited the potential offered by digital and noting that digital goes beyond Comms and fundraising (@ThirdSectorLab, @sallyld). This did arise as the priority by the 12 respondents to a different poll by @TheRichDB poll. Followed by cultural change, then governance & risk. @David_McNeill also noted that there has been a lot of focus on fundraising but for @David_McNeill, he is excited to see how online platforms are supporting the creation and development of new types of communities / support networks.  Sally got a lot of retweets when she said that fundraising is only scratching the surface of the potential offered by digital. @David_McNeill cited examples from antenatal classes developing WhatsApp groups for peer support to Mumsnet forum chat to community Facebook groups lobbying on planning policy and posed a challenge for ‘charities’ and asked the community to consider how this might replace some of their traditional activities.

In terms of recruitment, @trusteeleaders argued that we should approach recruitment like you would a paid role – advertise and check their skills set. This is sound advice and this should include a range of digital skills. As noted earlier, the majority agreed that a ‘digital champion’ should be appointed and one of their goals should be to build capability and skills for other members. This was supported by Ross (@ThirdSectorLab) who said that this one expert could drive things forward and sense check new ideas, in the same way that every board has a finance expert scrutinising the accounts and encouraging financial good practice. As part of the regular auditing of skills and competences of board members, these skills should be included and if you don’t have them around the table then it would be good practice to go and actively seek them as part of a recruitment drive.

@OfficialCause4 raised the issue of ‘measuring success’ in terms of digital inclusion and this led to a discussion on engagement being a much more meaningful way to measure. @David_McNeill stated that we should beware of vanity statistics, noting that “hits and reach with large numbers are often meaningless – “ask what impact the reach has made”.  As @OfficialCause4 pointed out “no point having a million followers if only 3 of them are genuine”.  Evaluating the impact of our decisions is critical and grow in importance over the years.  We need to demonstrate how we reach out to our communities, including how we debate who is included and excluded by our actions and where possible how we can meaningfully engage with those that may be marginalised.

It is clear that #trusteehour is raising some interesting questions and good practice is emerging from the two sessions so far. For this one, consensus emerged around all trustees having digital skills but having a board level champion would be a great start. The importance of a trustee competency audit regularly comes up in discussion but in this session, this should also breakdown ‘digital skills’ that the board might wish to develop and seek from new appointees. It is certain that debates around ‘digital inclusion’ in our board rooms will help us to consider who and how we engage and likely to identify new ways to enhance service provision.


Next #trusteehour is Tuesday 16 January 8-9pm. Theme? What New Year’s Resolution are you making as a trustee?!

‏ Further resources:

Guest blog by @Juliekhutchison – Reflecting on #trusteehour #1

Guest blog by @Juliekhutchison – Reflecting on #trusteehour #1

When @Weavermiles and I had the idea to facilitate a twitter platform for charity trustees and try this during Trustees’ Week, we didn’t know what to expect.  Would we spend the hour replying to each other’s tweets, with no-one else joining the @trusteehour conversation?

Soon after 8pm on 15th November, it was clear we needn’t have worried.  It was great to watch the themes develop, with the main limitation being how quickly my laptop would refresh after multiple notifications.

It’s worth going back to look again at the #trusteehour thread, as the volume of posts in that hour meant it was impossible to get a full appreciation of the range of comments and weblinks being shared in real time.

This blog will shed light on neglected gems you may have missed and shares weblinks from the thread as further resources.

It’s also another way to share the contributions with a wider audience.

There was a spike of almost 5,000 impressions/views of tweets around the first #trusteehour, with contributors from Saudi Arabia (hi @JohnLoughton!), Northern Ireland, Cumbria, Wales, a cluster of contributors in Edinburgh and Glasgow and points south too.

The theme, nominated by @GISALEGEND, was the ‘importance of board diversity & young trustees’.  Here are 10 things which stood out on my re-reading of the thread:

  1. Student union trustees – a reminder this is an example of young trusteeship in action.
  2. Is the message right? Is the concept of altruism a strong enough ‘pull’ factor?
  3. Language could be a barrier. Is the word “volunteer” more meaningful than “trustee”?
  4. There was some good advocacy from charity CEOs and vice-chairs with boards that already include younger trustees; positive to see. A shout out to @lauradavies24 @IMcLaughlan and @Louisemac for contributing.
  5. The need for listening and being aware that, to some degree, we’re talking among ourselves: as @sallyld put it “What are we doing to engage young people in THIS conversation”
  6. Recruitment methods act as a barrier, if word-of-mouth perpetuates ‘more of the same’ around the boardtable.
  7. Timing of meetings acts as a barrier: holding board meetings outside working hours may make participation easier.
  8. Employers could be enablers: volunteering leave was mentioned as a helpful factor.
  9. Experience shared by Northern Ireland contributors of their board apprentice scheme, in its first year – this could be an interesting pilot to try in other locations
  10. Giving a voice to young trustees: I’ll end with two tweets which stood out for me, after a plug for the next #trusteehour on Tuesday 12th December 8-9pm, when the nominated topic is ‘Let’s talk digital leadership & digital inclusion for trustees, employees, volunteers & our service users.’

Further resources


Blog by Julie Hutchison
Founding Editor of @InformedTrustee

 20 November 2017

University endorses new online charity trustee course

Informed Trustee aims to encourage more diverse boards

Edinburgh Napier has endorsed a new online course by STEP, the professional body for practitioners specialising in family inheritance and succession planning.

For further details click here.

Dr Miles Weaver, Associate Professor and Programme Director of the Leadership in Board Governance Programme at Edinburgh Napier, said: “Edinburgh Napier University is confident that this e-learning course will make an impact on both individuals and the charities they serve, will encourage more individuals to consider trusteeship and develop the necessary underpinning knowledge, skills and mind-set to fulfil this role.”

New chapter published: Innovation in Limited Markets: Managing PCP Projects in the UK Defence Industry

See here for open access article.
Shaun Gee1, Miles W. Weaver2 and Grant MacKerron2


This chapter will outline guidelines developed to both support and enhance innovation within the context of procuring complex performance (PCP) contracts. Such contracts are currently being employed across a range of sectors where limited market conditions exist. Such contracts and market conditions are set to remain the dominant form of defence procurement strategy for the foreseeable future. The case of the Typhoon combat aircraft programme is presented as an example of a typical, large‐scale, complex procurement programme for the defence industry. The MoD and the UK defence industry have developed new, contractual models for procuring complex equipment, such as aircraft and naval ships. These models involve the contracting for complex performance, which has changed the paradigm in the relationship between the customer(s) (MoD, UK Armed Forces) and the supplier (UK Defence Industry). Outcome‐based contracts for procuring complex performance (PCP) have been employed widely by the defence industry and other sectors in limited or oligopolistic markets. Ten theoretical propositions are presented in this chapter, to help us discuss PCP contracts. The literature review will include servitisation, complex performance models and discuss innovation strategies in the context of limited markets. Lessons learnt from the case, and guidelines for enhancing innovation are presented.


Keywords: innovation, projects, procuring, performance, UK defence industry

Interesting article: The Importance of Boardroom Diversity by Lynne Cadenhead

Lynne Cadenhead writes an interesting blog for ENU Alumni on “The Importance of Boardroom Diversity“. 

Lack of diversity is a problem…

Boards are the mind and will of a company, and they perform better when they include the best people coming from a range of backgrounds and perspectives. The boardroom is where all strategic decisions are made, risk overseen and governance applied. Therefore, it’s vital that an effective and balanced board consists of a diverse blend of high-quality individuals bringing a mix of experience, skills and backgrounds to the table.

Click here to read more on the Alumni blog site.