I recently watched the film Salmon fishing in the Yemen. I don’t know what the pull to this film was as I’d not heard others rave about it; it didn’t catch my eye when it was a trailer at the cinema and fishing is not my thing. It was just a punt but there has not been a film that has made me think about things like this one for a while.
In summary, the story is about a Sheik from Yemen who has the money to do what he wants which is to be able to fish for Salmon in his home country; a land where wild Salmon don’t live and where the climate and geography are not on his side. So he enlists fishing expert Ewan McGregor to make it happen. McGregor doesn’t believe it is possible as he lives his life by statistics and science. Facts tell him Yemen is not the place to make it a reality. But the job is too good a deal for his employer who put him on the job anyway, expecting results.
In short, he has no belief that the project will happen and goes through the motions waiting for the moment when the concept is proved a pie in the sky project and he can return to his normal job.
The key part of the film was when the Sheik takes McGregor fishing in Scotland. He asks him if he is religious. McGregor says he has no use for religion as he relies on science, statistics and project management. The Sheik then asks him, as a keen fisherman, when he will catch his next fish? McGregor can’t answer. McGregor admits there are times when he catches no fish at all. The Sheik asks why he fishes if he can’t be sure he will catch anything? He suggests McGregor must have faith to believe that there will always be another, perhaps bigger fish.
And that was the point at which Ewan McGregor engaged with the project in Yemen.
I’ve never been religious either, but I do think that you can have faith in an idea or people to deliver something that on the face of it appears not achievable; Leeds – Best City in the UK for example….Salmon Fishing in the Yemen etc….Leeds United winning the top footballing honour again. It’s about possible and probable. Either way, I think these things just need a spark to ignite them, a thing to get people talking about them; in a way that makes people see them differently and sign up…cos actually that is the best place to be…having a go.
Sometimes we need to do stuff because it is the right thing to do. And I see the need for SMART targets and sensible use of taxpayer’s money, course I do, but there is perhaps a dilemma for some in going with a gut feeling or doing things differently. So that’s why I’m excited about some of the projects that are coming out of the Civic Enterprise Initiative in Leeds.
A key task of the commission on the future of local government was to take the concept of ‘Civic Enterprise’ and test its practical application across a broad range of services to identify genuine opportunities for new ways of working between the public, private and third sectors.
I’m working with some folk in Leeds at the moment and we are on a bit of a suck it and see journey. There are about 10 people who have volunteered to explore what the benefits of becoming more social media friendly might be….to test the practical application as it were, to see how working more sociably might improve things. They have signed up to learn some new skills based on social media which might help them back in their service areas to better connect and bring people together so they can involve more people in how services are delivered.
These 10 folk are supporting each other and sharing what they know and the skills they have. And they need encouragement to maintain the faith in what they originally got involved for. We need people like the Sheik in the film to remind us that sometimes we need to try new things to see if they work.
We don’t know exactly where we will end up but I have a good feeling there will be some good outcomes and we will have fun getting there. @Recoveryleeds is one of these projects; about awareness and linking up the support services that help people on their recovery journey around drugs and alcohol. Watch this space for more information.
And these projects are not just about making employees happy, although that will be an added benefit – we need to maintain the motivation, enthusiasm and drive to do something that is sustainable and which can then be rolled out wider. I’m hoping that part of that journey will be the people involved will become able to tell their stories like Julie, Victoria, Dylan and Angie have done in the talking heads section of this blog.
This will help us in our aim of becoming a more social media friendly place to be.
As always, thoughts from any organisation or individual are welcome on this blog. We are interested in what others are doing to become more social media friendly or making their work place a more sociable place to be, and happy to share your thoughts or ideas too.
Senior communications manager
Leeds City Council