Civil Society Forum: acting together on complex challenges

Along with six other close colleagues from the Collaborative Strategies Network (, I am helping to establish a new Civil Society Forum, with a launch scheduled for Wednesday 20th April.

Civil Society faces profound organisational and leadership challenges as we enter a new era. Government does not and cannot have all the answers. What role can Civil Society play to close the gap in the changing relationship between state and citizen?
Building a stronger civil society requires us to tackle complex challenges together, and the Civil Society Forum is being set up to enable leaders to engage with these practical challenges and make the most of the opportunities.


What we will achieve on the day

This will be the key event in building the Civil Society Forum, providing an open and  supportive space for strategic thinking and  individual and joint action. 

It will tap a rich range of experience and expertise, and belong to all who participate in it. 

You will develop your knowledge, know-how and networks, build relationships and discuss practical ways in which closer working can achieve a more forward-looking and stronger civil society. Your understanding of what civil society can achieve by working collaboratively will be stretched by different challenges to accepted constraints and conventional thinking.


Programme for the Day

1.      Explore the challenges  in building civil society , and ways in which we can work together to address them. This will include short sessions from speakers with government, business and civil society experience, as well as group discussion.
Speakers will include:

  • Professor John Carlisle, a leading authority on collaboration and author of ???Beyond Negotiation???
  • Lucian J. Hudson, a specialist in cross-sector collaboration and accredited mediator.  Former Director of Communications, FCO, and the UK government???s first Director of e-Communications.

2.      Develop the role and remit  of the Forum , and take forward the future programme for the CSF

3.      Consider the policy context for Civil Society, and discuss the issues, options and solutions.

Our vision

Our vision is to be a catalyst for individual and joint action. Areas for action include:

  • Break down silos, and build bridges
  • Find and appreciate what is being done well and exchange transferable insight.
  • Learn together on what constitutes good practice in collaborative leadership; negotiation and influence; advocacy and engagement;  commissioning, funding and service delivery
  • Support in-depth strategic dialogue between government and other players
  • Understand and enhance services as experienced by the service recipients
  • Lever and develop informal networks for greater effectiveness

We have a strong focus on stimulating effective collaboration and organisation to increase collective impact on society.


The Forum will be open to partnership with existing organisations and networks across sectors. We invite proposals from individuals and organisations who might be involved, suggesting how we might work more closely together.


The founders of the Civil Society Forum are:

Lucian J. Hudson

Chairman, Collaborative Strategies Network.

Managing Director, Cornerstone Global Associates.

Previously Director of Communication, FCO.

Professor John Carlisle

Managing Director, Cooperation Works, a leading authority on collaboration and organisational transformation, whose work has been cited and endorsed by HBR. Previously trainer on Top Government Development Programme.

Mark Napier

Managing Director, Centre for Public Innovation.

James Plunket

Managing Director, Social Investment Group.

Member of the Philanthropy Advice Steering Group.

Aidan Ward

Partner, Fractal, representing ScIO, systems practitioners

Esther Ridsdale

Managing Director, CSPI (Collaborative Strategy, Planning & Improvement) Associates. Recently Collaborative Working Officer at the NCVO


This event will benefit delegates from: voluntary and community sector organisations, local and national government, health and social care organisations, social enterprises, professional bodies, think tanks, and those with an interest or supporting role in civil society.




1.30     2.00 pm

Registration & Networking reception

2.00     5.30 pm

Main event


Reception and optional Dinner

8.00 pm




??35 per head plus VAT

Dinner, payable on the day. Price will be confirmed shortly.


Options for a preliminary morning workshop are being considered to progress an aspect of the strategic thinking. Details to be confirmed. Comment provided by you on particular areas of interest will be considered in planning this. (There may be a small additional charge)

Registration closes:

4 pm Thursday 14th April


Central London TBA

Contacts: / 0780 243 0246

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