The Public Service Mutual Revolution. How to Lead Sustainable Change



The Public Service Mutual Revolution

How to Lead Sustainable Change

Craig Dearden-Phillips



The conundrum of politicians and public sector leaders everywhere is how to re-shape public services to a rapidly changing world in which expectations sky-rocket while economic growth remains low. The solution is elusive but lies in rapidly increased productivity, faster innovation (or adaptation), higher levels of customer focus, better control of costs, fresh approaches to engaging staff and new levels of responsiveness to changes in society.

So how is this achieved? Part of the response by local and national government has been unimaginative – with increasing tracts of public services now contracted-out to large powerful global companies which sometimes succeed but, all too often, fail quite extravagantly to deliver the goods, particularly in the caring sectors.

But another part of the response has been far more interesting: to convert important public services into new, independent mission-driven, employee-owned or controlled ventures that successfully combine a commercial, business-approach with a primary focus, or mission, around the production of public or social benefit.

This is the opportunity faced by the public sector entrepreneur: to independently run former parts of the local and national government (or the NHS) as part of a liberated management and staff in a brand new entity with a simple, driving mission.

The most impressive examples of have been the 115 Public Service Mutuals, hundreds of Academies, Free Schools and, now, Multi-Academy Trusts and scores of charities now taking on public service work.

These are led by a new generation of CEO-Entrepreneurs and their teams of managers and staff who have left secure public sector careers to find new ways to deliver tomorrow’s public services.

Similarly, we have seen the formation by public managers of new mission-based businesses that owned or co-owned by local or national government. These remain state owned but, at their best, in every way operationally independent from the state. Many of these have been highly successful in wedding a public service ethos with a deeply commercial approach.

The focus of this book is on what is required to create these ‘unleashed’, mission-driven, ‘mutual’ type businesses and to make them into successful providers of public services. Not all have been successful and it is important to distinguish what marks out the successful public service business of tomorrow from the one that is going to struggle.

Unsurprisingly, the book focuses on the entrepreneurial element; the fundamental importance of finding and supporting public service leaders who can build a team to create truly independent, self-directed businesses in which the people leading, running and working within the business have full responsibility, and accountability, for achieving the results.

The lifeblood of the book consists in its examples of businesses and profiles of them and their leadership. To this end, we speak to the CEOs and key founders behind 25 of the highest performing mission-led public service businesses. These include the CEOs of the most acclaimed and progressive Public Service Mutuals and Social Enterprises to have emerged since 2010.

What readers can expect from the book is a tour de force of how these businesses were born and grew, what hurdles they had to overcome and what they did to achieve the success they have. We will identify the ‘DNA’ of success for these types of business so that it is possible to see a blueprint for success and a roadmap away from potential failure.

This is a book to be read by public service leaders who genuinely want to know what it takes to deliver successful public services and the concrete steps they need to take.

Chapter List

  1. Public Service Mutuals: What they are and why they matter
  2. Why People Do This - Because it’s better, because it works
  3. Frying pan or fire - making the tough decision
  4. Creating a vision, then sharing it
  5. Winning the support of politicians
  6. Writing a bold, but achievable plan
  7. Why some will come with you and others will stay behind
  8. Cutting the ties, whilst retaining a safety net
  9. Winning support as a credible alternative to what you were before
  10. Early barriers, some expected and some a surprise
  11. Claiming your market position and getting attention
  12. Changing the culture as you become more commercial
  13. Why some will grow with you and some will fall by the wayside
  14. Spreading your wings; winning previously out of reach contracts
  15. Recruiting the right non-executive Board and keeping their support
  16. Coping with political change
  17. Competition and how to beat it
  18. The challenges of growth
  19. Mergers and acquisitions
  20. Succession planning for your senior people

The Author

Craig Dearden-Phillips

Craig Dearden-Phillips is the author of three books on social sector leadership and is a Visiting Lecturer at London Cass Business School. He took his first charity CEO role at 25 and now coaches CEOs, boards and teams in the social to become more successful. Craig run also Social Club, a fastgrowing network of social sector leaders.

Beyond this, Craig is a Trustee of Impetus-PEF and is Chair of his the Stepping Out Foundation which supports social start-ups. Outside work, Craig has three children, lives in Suffolk and is a committed amateur triathlete, representing Great Britain in 2017.

Publication in Spring 2018

The Public Service Mutual Revolution is scheduled to be published late Spring 2018. It will be heavily promoted and is likely to attract both national and public sector press coverage. It will be sold via Amazon and wholesaled into the book trade via Gardners.

The book will profile more than 25 organisations that have successfully spun-out to create a public service mutual. Each will feature at various points in the book, to illustrate a particular point. Craig wants the book to guide those setting out on the journey to benefit from the experience of those that have successfully gone before them.

To find out more about this forthcoming book, contact Robert Ashton at Turnpike Press -


Cover shown is for illustration purposes only and may change at time of publication.