75 – Posts 51 to 74. What has been discussed?

Interest in the blog is growing with a small and persistent group of followers and over 1500 views from people in countries across the globe (see map). In earlier index posts I have listed posts or groups of posts, pretty much in the order posted, that related to a theme. This time I have listed the themes (alphabetically) and grouped posts beneath them. I hope it makes sense.

blog interest 11042015


Post 62 introduces a new writer on the theme of ambition and local government. The post discusses the difficulties for the ambitious or those who don’t fit into the dominant culture or comply with senior management’s wishes. In a post 64 Tim Whistler links career ambition with local government culture drawing on the parable of the three stonemasons and linking it to culture surveys, the Executive, and the desire for compliant behaviour, not performance. Tales of thwarted ambition?

Customer service.

Post 73 discusses a recent article on the use of social media by disgruntled customers and the implications for customer service. This trend presents challenges for councils to improve service delivery and broaden customer service channels. Vive la révolution informatique!

Decision making.

Post 54 is a slightly tongue in cheek look at hats that councillors might wear to signal the capacity in which they are acting when they make decisions, or the type of decision they are making. Hats have long been both a fashion statement and a symbol of status or role in society. Have a read and see what you think. In a similar vein, post 59 looks at hats that middle managers might wear for similar reasons. When can you see yourself donning one?

Post 71 discusses the ‘People’s Panel’ appointed by Melbourne City Council to make recommendations on their budget for the next 5 years. It is the latest version of participatory budgeting and potentially a harbinger of things to come for major council decisions. What do you think?

High performance.

In post 51 Colin Weatherby discusses what you can expect to find if you carried out an organisational self assessment (OSA) using the Australian Business Excellence Framework. He poses the question ‘Do you need an OSA?’ I think the answer is yes and what you will find out when you do one will be enlightening. Read on.

Job design.

In post 66 Lancing Farrell begins a series of posts on the idea of high performance jobs. Based on an article by Robert Simons, Designing High Performance Jobs, the first post provides a diagnostic tool for your own job. Has it been designed for high performance? The next two posts discuss how to design a high performance management job in local government. Post 67 covers some theory and in post 68 the theory is applied to three local government management roles.


Post 74 discusses two more books relevant to management in local government. Terry Leahy’s book ‘Management in 10 Words’ and Jay Greene’s book ‘Design is how if works’ are previewed. Read them and think about how you can focus more on truth, loyalty, courage, values, act, balance, simple, lean, complete, and trust. Learn how to create experiences that your customers crave (or at least get it right most times)!

Management observations.

Post 63 revisits Richard Farson’s great book, ‘Management of the Absurd – Paradoxes in Leadership’, to discuss the reliance on intuition by experienced managers – and the fact that this isn’t always the case in local government. Maybe we just don’t trust ourselves?

News stories.

In March three articles were published on the same day in the Melbourne Age newspaper that have significance for local government. Post 53 discusses growth in the service economy, restructuring of the national basketball league and privatisation of government assets. You will have to read it to see how they are connected.

Organisational change.

Post 72 raises the issue of ‘revolutionisation’, the term given by Tim Whistler to CEO’s who come into councils and radically transform them. If you have worked in the sector for ten years I am pretty sure it has happened to you at least once. What do these CEO’s do, why is it so predictable, and does it make a lasting difference? You decide.

Performance appraisal.

Post 52 starts a series on performance appraisal in local government, which includes posts 55, 56 and 58. The first post presents the view that what is currently happening doesn’t work. Nobody does it unless they have to. The second post talks about why it is done. What do we think we are going to achieve? The third discusses what can be done in response to the shortcomings of the current performance appraisal system. The fourth post puts forward an alternative.

Later, in post 70 Tim Whistler relates a performance appraisal story – what does ‘meeting expectations’ really mean?


Post 65 the differences in operations between councils and their suppliers is discussed. Why do major suppliers invest in integrated management systems when councils don’t. It is a good question.


In post 57 Tim Whistler describes four types of thinking seen in local government, some more often than others. Many would see the first two as related and a progression in thinking, from their convenience to the potential consequences, and would be comfortable to stop there – you can pat yourself on the back because you have started thinking ahead.

The two latter types of thinking, integrative and systems, move decision makers from their personal needs towards the good of the organisation. How often do you find yourself thinking that way?


In posts 60 and 61 Colin Weatherby discusses a tool he has developed to focus discussion on different types of value. It helps to separate private value expectations from public value considerations for the purpose of analysis and discussion. Once the relationships are understood and have been debated, the tool facilitates discussion about how different value is related and facilitates planning for how it can be integrated in services. It is the ‘multi-tool’ for value planning.

Post 69 discusses local government and milk. What do they have in common? Milk producers have been redefining the value of their product and differentiating between different suppliers of different milk products to add value to a commoditised product. Why can’t local government do the same and avoid being a supplier of low cost commoditised services?