Paradise in Southern Italy – Best Blogs Series

Italiano: Dintorni di Palinuro.

Italiano: Dintorni di Palinuro. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

638x343 px

638×343 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the gems of our seven week trip will always be our unplanned visit to Palinuro, which is two hours by road South of the World famous resorts on the Amalfi Coast in Southern Italy. Palinuro is totally different to the sophisticated and highly commercialized resorts of Amalfi, Positano andRavello, however, equally as beautiful in its own right. It does not have the expensive small shops, nor does it have the five-star hotels, instead it does have lots of shops selling affordable merchandise and some excellent four star hotels. The restaurants are catering for Italians and the menu in most of them is not translated, so if you don’t speak the language that’s tough but a lot of fun. English is not widely spoken here and it is so nice to spend time away from the hoards of Germans, Americans, Brits and in fact, tourists from all over the world.

To bring you up to date, we received news that our cargo-cruise to Cyprus, taking both ourselves and our car, would be delayed ten days because of schedule changes. After a moment’s irritation, we decided that we must accept the fact that this is Italy and time keeping is not their forte in life, and after all, where could there be a nicer place to get stranded than in Italy, so we took this as an opportunity to explore the Southern Amalfi Coast further.

By chance, we landed in Palinuro, on a stunning bay overlooking the sea, and spent a wonderful week in one of the most beautiful and relaxing parts of Italy. Palinuro is a simple resort, full of friendly, helpful people and critically is in the Cliento and Vallo di Diano National Park which became a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1997. The national park is one of the most sparsely populated parts of Italy. Palinuro is a popular resort for people of the Italian region of Campania, including Naples and Salerno. It also gets some visitors from Rome but it remains largely off the international tourist map even though you do get the occasional American or German.

We found a wonderful, inexpensive and friendly boutique hotel, with a room facing the sea where at night we listened to the sea breaking on the rocks twenty feet below. In the days, we explored the national park, swam in the almost transparent deep blue sea and sampled the local fresh fish caught that day, washing it down with excellent local wine, of course.

Yesterday we took a boat trip around the cape to explore the World famous grottos:

  • The Blue grotto owes its name to the extraordinary effect produced by the sunlight which filters inside from an underground passage at a depth of about eighteen metres, providing a spectacular play of light and colours
  • The Blood grotto is characterized by striking blood-red markings winding up the walls, reflecting onto the sea and giving an amazing reddish colouring
  • The Monks grotto is rich in stalagmite formations which resemble friars in monks habit

Palinuro has been a lovely find and we should definitely like to return soon. For now though, we are focussed on the next and final stage of our journey by ship from Italy to Cyprus which is due to sail on the 12th. and, fingers crossed, this time to schedule! Hopefully, on our six-day boat trip to Cyprus, we shall have some time to edit our hundreds of photos and post them on the web soon, so watch this space!

Utilising Professional Interims to Help Reduce the Budget Deficit – Removing Catch 22? – Best Blogs Series

Today, I am using my blog to publish a White Paper that I wrote in consultation with colleagues.

This White Paper has been used by a number of Professional Interims in meetings with their Members of Parliament. The White Paper has been forwarded to Francis Maude, Minister for the Cabinet Office.

For the readers convenience, I am restating the underlying problem below:

PROBLEM STATEMENT

The Government is asking the Public Sector (both Central and Local Government) to cut costs significantly to substantially reduce the budget deficit before the next election. Secondly, the Government has an ambitious Reform Agenda that will probably impact every Government department and local authority.

Effective reform normally requires vision, political will, public support, leadership and effective transformation – with sustained momentum and huge intensification of effort. With Public Sector organizations likely to be weakened by the cuts, there is a very high risk that they will struggle with the transformation programmes required to deliver the Reform Agenda.

In the past, the Public Sector would have turned to consultants, contractors and professional interims to augment their own resources to help implement major transformation programs.

As part of its austerity measures to cut costs, the Cabinet Office introduced blanket controls on all consultants, contractors and professional interims. These controls require a valid business case, plus ministerial and Cabinet Office approval. In the short-term, these controls have been effective in reducing costs. Within the Professional Interim (“PI”)  industry, these controls have become known as the “Catch 22 controls” (“Catch 22”) because a PI or consultant is often required to help draft the business case.

The Public Sector will need to turn to the major outsourced services providers and big consultancies to deliver the programs to deliver the Reform Agenda. Despite protracted procurement and contract negotiation processes, these large firms will be ultimately be motivated to look after their own commercial interests. Unfortunately, as many National Audit Office publications show, there is a poor record of major technology and transformation programmes in the Public Sector – indeed that record was established in more normal times, rather than exceptional times.

This White Paper argues that the selective removal of the Cabinet Office’s Catch 22 controls, and the limited deployment of PIs, working client-side alongside Public Sector managers, would be in the national interest. It will also support the Government’s Small Business and Enterprise agenda