50 – The last 23 posts (26 to 49). What have you missed?

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The crowd is building – almost 1000 views.  This post, along with Post 26, provides an overview of topics discussed by writers so far. It is an index and a chance to quickly catch up with what you have missed.

Post 26 provides a brief overview of the first 25 posts. Key themes were local government services, complexity, defining customers, productivity, some emerging characteristics of people and councils, changes in Victorian local government since the 1990’s, integrated planning (several posts), policies and strategies, some books you should read, rate capping, the role of the Council Plan, the role of councillors, what a high performing local government organisation might look like, how to make high performance happen, and local government budgeting. Phew.

Post 27 discusses ‘risk farming’ – the practice of top management spreading risk around the organisation in the name of good governance to avoid personal accountability. Tell me you have never seen it happen.

Rate capping featured in several posts. Posts 28 and 29 discuss it in relation to shared services and the potential for them to be seen as a panacea. Scale economies, front and back office separation, and a case study from NSW are covered. Post 46 leads with articles on rate capping from The Age and suggests that focussing on demonstrating value should be part of the response to rate capping, in addition to creating efficiencies and simple cost cutting. Post 47 discusses ‘core’ services in local government. The premise is that rate capping will prompt councils to start identifying core and non-core services so that core services are more protected from budget cuts. Services provided by the council as an authority are described separately from those that are coercive or discretionary and some key criteria are identified. Whistler puts forward some ‘workarounds’ in response to rate capping that we can expect to see in Post 49.

Post 30 discusses a phenomenon experienced by many managers when they think things are getting better only to find that they seem to be getting worse. Richard Farson’s insight into the idea that complainants climb Maslow’s hierarchy as an organisation becomes healthier is discussed in relation to the way performance is measured in local government.

Performance measurement captured the attention of a couple of writers. In post 31 Lancing Farrell asks, What are we talking about when we discuss measures, targets, KPI’s KRA’s and CSF’s? Links are made to the ideas of John Seddon and Mark H. Moore. Post 33 uses the ideas of Geary Rummler and Alan Brache to describe an approach to local government performance measurement. A link is made with Mark H. Moore’s Public Value Scorecard. Colin Weatherby describes how he responds to a request to build a dashboard in post 43 and he provides a case study in performance management thinking.

Post 32 takes a philosophical view about development of local government professionals using the Australian song writer and singer Paul Kelly’s song ‘Deeper Water’. Do we progressively get in deeper and deeper to develop our skills, or do we just get out of our depth? You decide.

Post 34 picks up on the work of Peter R. Scholtes to discuss the role of middle management in what he calls ‘scraping burning toast’, i.e. as the ‘expediters and trouble shooters’ necessary to make sure that inefficient systems work. Some suggestions are offered to stop burning toast!

Post 35 covers sources of accountability. Based on the work of Mark H. Moore, the audit, political, ‘pluralist demand’, and legal accountabilities of local government are discussed. What really drives what we do in local government? Is it what we say it is?

Post 36 recounts Whistler’s likes and dislikes about previous managers. The lack of commitment to community needs or even professional values is discussed. I can certainly relate to it. Maybe you can too.

Post 37 discusses risk delegation and asks who it is in your organisation that has the delegation for various levels of risk. The chances are that no one has a delegation and that risks are avoided rather than taken to provide customer value.

Lancing Farrell posted twice on Mark H. Moore’s Public Value Scorecard. Posts 38 and 39 discuss how it can be used in local government using waste services as an exemplar. Each element of the scorecard is explained along with some of the practical issues in its use. Try it. It is easier than you think.

Post 40 discusses the Dunning-Kruger Effect in which people who are incompetent are unaware of it and, therefore, overestimate their abilities. Colin Weatherby links it to the ‘Peter Principle’ and describes how it occurs in local government and gives some tips on what you can do if your manager suffers from it.

Post 41 discusses the work of Richard B. Chase in the 1970’s and thereafter as a proponent of separating front and back office activities. John Seddon sees this separation as a major part of the problem with public services today, but Lancing Farrell argues it is an idea badly applied rather than a bad idea. All of us have worked in systems where they are separated. What do you think?

Post 42 continues to discuss the customer service, this time focussing on the ‘voice of the customer’. Some practical suggestions from Peter R. Scholtes and ‘Lean thinking’ are described to help ensure that the customer is heard and able to influence the organisation. Do you know how your customers compare the value you offer or whether they are getting something they don’t need when they receive your services?

The organisational Executive featured in two posts. As the leaders and key decision makes in local government they have a positive influential role to play. But are they? Post 44 starts a discussion about the role of the Executive in local government. What do they do to add value? In Post 45, Whistler recounts a story about the Executive of a council deliberating over their annual budget.

Post 48 discusses the ‘virtual’ service of emergency management. Councils are required to develop the capability to put teams in place to respond and provide assistance during an emergency. Many have excelled. The same skills required to put together teams for emergencies could see teams assembled for other purposes in an approach described as ‘teaming’.

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