All Aboard the Sky Lark

I was perhaps a bit too flip in my immediate response to the LSC’s latest out of a clear blue sky “initiative” the “Provider Reference Group”.
Now real fossils of franchising like me will probably remember similar focus groups the first, in my fragile memory, being the FLUG (Franchise Liaison User Groups I recall). Once we mover into mandatory franchising under post 2000 Civil Contracts Community Legal Service Partnerships (CLSPs) were established a much more formal contact group to assist in the task of advising on “implementation of reform”. Both were open access groups, i.e. significantly more democratic and supported by LSC staff, particularly the CLSP. Ultimately both were wound up largely because of resource implications.
You will I do not doubt guess my cynicism about this latest focus group. You are right and my concerns are legion; why a hand picked group of only 10, why limit the terms of refference to the form of change and not its content, can we anticipate a genuine “two-way dialogue” with resultant impact and why now?
You will have your own answers.
Significantly this seems to confirm the following 3 points.

Genuine consultation, which would comprehensively facilitate the LSC’s need to “test new ideas”, with the professions represnetative bodies is now, like LSC Offline, closed until further notice.
The alternative much vaunted and piloted mechanism for improving relations with the profession, the Preferred Supplier Scheme, is dead in the water. (why not come out and admit this? – oh that would identify another costly pilot now doomed to failure)
The LSC are more out of touch than even I thought possible if they think this paper-thin veneer of “communication” will impress anybody, let alone have any practical impact.

Rather the Commission should hold a real review as to why the profession holds them in “contempt” and regards them with “loathing”.
It is easy to characterise this site as being relentlessly negative about LSC initiatives so how about an alternative to PRGs? I have long held the view that senior LSC Head Office staff are only ever told what they want to hear from those with operational experience. I firmly believe that some energy spent encouraging honest communication from staff at the coal face would achieve much more than this half- baked proposition. This would however require two necessary features; those listening having the ability to accept robust criticism and the provision of a secure and protective environment for the speakers.
Not going to happen is it?

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