With some trepidation – allow me to welcome you to my first ever blog.

There are many reasons why I don’t blog, and they are the same reasons that mean you are probably more likely to win the lottery than spot an update from me on facebook.

Short of spending hours in therapy to get to the bottom of it– the reasons are probably a healthy dose of cynicism and an inbuilt reluctance towards self publicising. It would also be dreadful if the internet ran out of space on the day I decided to post my first cat video.

All that being said, I really understand the value social media brings to communication and engagement and that amongst all the online ‘noise’ there are some really important conversations taking place . And so in the spirit of trying new things….here goes.

On the 4th Feb the local government challenge started with a bang. Amy Newham has already blogged about the highs and lows of Highcliffe. From team names, to team leaders to a hundred different issues to consider, the challenge was relentless, but equally brilliant. As competitors we have no choice but to think on our feet, and probably more importantly be ourselves – as when the pressure builds and the cameras are rolling there isn’t really any hiding space.

I loved the first challenge, as team leader I was disappointed not to win, but was really pleased with how well we worked together and every member of the team played a massive part. We came up with some really innovative proposals to achieve a bold vision for the future, but more importantly the vision was underlined by a co-production strategy for engaging and empowering members and residents to actually make it happen.

But this blog isn’t about the first challenge, it’s about that no-man land between now and the next event in Derbyshire. I guess the big question to consider is how can you prepare for an event that could be about anything. I think the answer is that you probably can’t really – but there are few things I’ve tried to do.  After each challenge you are given feedback on your team and individual performance. We had some really good feedback from Gary at Christchurch council – who was playing the role of an undercover Karen Brady at the last challenge – and the key for next time is going to be showing  improvement on this. I imagine this will be easier said than done, as once the clock is ticking on the challenge, all the best laid plans are easily forgotten.

Time has flown between challenges and the day job has kicked back in. Which has meant I haven’t been able to spend much time reflecting on the previous challenge or plan for the new one. I will, before the next challenge starts, have googled all I can about Derbyshire Council; in particular the political set up, as one of the most interesting things for me from the last challenge was encountering a Conservative Cabinet for the first time.

I also enjoyed the first challenge so much that I’ve started to have conversations about it at work and began to pick the brains of some of the more senior managers to see if I can make the most of their experience.  This will hopefully be invaluable as the challenges get more and more intense. Along the same lines and to improve my view of self publicising I’ve started to tweet about some issues that are important to me.

The next one is just a week away and I’m sure it’ll be equally as exhausting, challenging and enjoyable as the last one. I expect there will be a few surprises and it’ll be interesting to see how well we all continue to work together as the pressure builds. I’ll also definitely make sure I bring some cash in case the bar on the train home doesn’t accept cards.