101 – Index post – posts 76 to 100.


It is a century in posts and about the half way mark in our 52 weeks in the life of local government downunder. Again the index post follows themes in alphabetical order.  An upgrade of the current index page to a more comprehensive syntopicon, or collection of topics, is planned.  Stay tuned.

Budgeting post 76 discusses capital expenditure targets and creative ways to achieve them, or at least appear to have achieved them. Have a go at the test and see whether you are equipped to manage your council’s capital program.

Classic paperpost 88 is the first in a new series looking at classic papers and examines Peter F. Drucker’s thoughts on managing public services.

Cost shiftingpost 93 looks at State government services required to be delivered by local government, which are often identified as ‘cost shifting’, implying that the State is forcing local government to do something that it should be doing. The question is whether this is the best way to look at it when council rates are a highly efficient way to tax people to pay for the services they use.

Culturepost 86 provides ten sayings that define local government culture and attempts to interpret them. Post 100 follows an earlier post on managers as the ‘scrapers of burnt toast’, to look at how risk and workload is being shifted to managers continuously by making them sign-off on everything.

Decision makingpost 82 looks at whether a decision is strategic or not. The article ‘How to Tell which Decisions are Strategic’ by Ram Shivakumar is discussed in relation to his matrix connecting decision making to their impact on ‘degree of commitment’ and ‘scope of the firm’. Post 98 examines the role of the functional organisation structure (common to local government) in impeding collaborative decision making, and the involvement of the Executive in re-managing, in the context of benefits available from a greater focus on cross-functional processes.

EsotericaPost 91 continues a them established by Tim Whistler looking at esoteric ideas that he somehow connects to local government. How are phenomenology, cautery and augury relevant concepts to local government today?

Internal servicespost 96 asks whether the ‘productivity’ improvements made at the centre of the organisation are always a genuine improvement. Sometimes they reduce centralised delivery costs for a few people but pass on greater costs to many times more new decentralised service deliverers. In post 97 Tim Whistler parodies corporate service cost savings using the analogy of cost savings in external service being made in a similar way. Why do we have different standards?

Operational excellencepost 77 describes what is it, how you achieve it, and why it should matter to be an excellent organisation. Post 78 discusses the organisational comfort zones where leaders are most at home and aligns those comfort zones with stages in operation improvement. Does your community want you to move out of their comfort zone and towards operational excellence?

Operations managementpost 94 reviews the minor forms of civil insurrection becoming evident in local government with guerrilla gardening, depaving, and, now, comedy penis graffiti. Is it just a way for people and communities to signal their dissatisfaction with councils that are out of touch with their needs?

Performance managementPost 80 provides advice on designing a performance management system based on the ‘nine performance variables’ described by Geary Rummler and Alan Brache. What types of measurements do you need? Post 81 then takes a detailed look at a process for managing performance, including worked examples, based on the work of Geary Rummler and Alan Brache.

Professional development – In post 79 the local government reading test is explained. Designed to determine whether leaders learn by reading it has produced interesting results.

Strategy implementationPost 83 introduces a series of posts about the article ‘Why Strategy Execution Unravels – and What to Do About it’ written by Donald Sull, Rebecca Homkes and Charles Sull in which they discuss how organisations can implement strategy more effectively by addressing five myths.

Post 84 looks at the first myth is that strategy implementation relies on organisational alignment and effective ‘line of sight’ from corporate mission to each individual and their work. Post 85 is about the second myth that effective strategy implementation requires sticking to your plan, not matter what happens. In post 87 the third myth covered is that communication is effective in achieving the understanding necessary to implement strategy.

Post 89 covers the fourth myth that an organisation with a strong performance culture will naturally be effective in strategy implementation. The fifth and final post about ‘Why Strategy Execution Unravels – and What to Do About it’, discusses the myth that strategy implementation should be driven from the top by senior management.

In post 92 Tim Whistler provides a further word on failure to implement strategy in local government based on his experiences.

Value-led management (and high performance) – post 95 discusses an approach to helping organisations fundamentally re-think what they are doing rather than continue to optimise what they are currently doing. Viewing a service as a value chain enables the demand and supply chains to be separated and joined by a ‘value proposition’ to focus operations design on creating specific value required by customers. Post 99 looks at the need to redesign council operations to deliver better value. The ideas of Mark H. Moore, and David Walters and Mark Rainbird are linked to provide an integrated approach to understanding value.