In this excellent guest blog by John Haddy of Essex County Council, he explains how working with Sycol has helped empower him to achieve their vision, mission and value.


Change…it’s a natural part of life and work. It can cause anxiety, fear and uncertainty. But it can also be empowering and necessary to ensure a business works efficiently and effectively. Sycol is designed to support businesses in making positive changes and so it is no wonder why the Sycol model appealed to the Statutory Assessment Service at Essex County Council following the introduction of the new SEND Code of Practice.


Often lots of change can cause more work and naturally have an impact on the time available to staff, but the ‘no excuses’ approach adopted by Ioan Rees to encourage us to keep moving our innovations forward inspired me and captured my interest in Sycol. And so from here my Sycol journey began…


Apart from the inspiring words of Ioan, I became captivated by the culture which Sycol promotes. A positive, no blame, fair approach to innovating certain areas of our service. Helping us to work ‘on’ rather than ‘in’ our day to day work. As a fond believer of treating staff as an employer’s greatest resource, why not listen to their ideas and improve the processes from the ground up? Well that’s what Sycol brings to your service, the opportunity for all staff, regardless of job role or pay grade, to share their views in an environment where no answer is ever seen as a ‘silly answer’.


So how does this ‘No excuses’ approach fit into this, you ask? Well consider it not as a punishment but rather encouragement, an opportunity to keep going and achieving regardless of any environmental or financial limitations.


I myself, am an administrator, whom like many others want to develop and grow. So it is easy to see how this model appeals to me. From this experience I have learnt valuable skills like time management, project management and speaking in front of a crowd. The model also allowed my creativity to run wild, ok there were certain limitations to this but it was a chance for myself and our service to grow, and become more efficient using the resources we had available to us. 


At the start of the second year I was offered the chance to be a Sycol Champion, responsible for maintaining the progress of both my own innovation team and overseeing the other 5 innovations across Essex. This itself has been a huge experience for me personally and as each day passes I am learning something new. Helping me in continuing to deliver support at a high standard to those who our service works with, and in helping our service achieve our vision, mission and values.


So to summarise, Sycol means to me: opportunity, development and persistence. It’s about being passionate so as to improve systems, processes and ourselves. And caring enough about what you do, to not just accept how things are but to dedicate valuable time on making it better. Because without excuses holding us back, together we will keep trying, adapting as necessary and achieving great things!”