106 – Some of the seldom asked questions in local government. What are they?

Posted by Whistler                                                                                          390 words

the thinker

I am sure these are not the only great unasked questions. But they are questions that frequently come to mind when you are in one of those interminable meetings talking about the same old topics.

  1. How does this add value? This is a question that often runs through my mind but it never seems appropriate to ask it. It just doesn’t seem relevant. As much as we say that we are serving the community, we choose to do it in our own way. What the community sees as value, and how they want it to be delivered, isn’t something we question enough.
  2. Am I the best person to do this? I like this question and have regularly asked it of my direct reports and encouraged them to ask it. My Group Manager has never asked it. As officer, we seem to like spending time doing things that we know how to do well, or that make us feel good because we have ‘saved the day’, or because it is just easier than the effort required in getting someone else to do it properly. Looking for the work that only you can do, and then doing it, can take you out of your comfort zone.
  3. What can we do to act on the customer survey? Each year, councils in Victoria participate in sector wide customer satisfaction monitoring. The survey results are made public and daily media report on the state wide results. Through this process it is possible to be identified as the worst performing council and this places a high level of pressure on councils. But does it lead to serious questioning of what can be done to act on the survey and really make a difference? Not often. There will be discussion about the results. A lot of time will be spent discussing the shortcomings of the methodology. But really trying to understand the results and act to improve customer or community satisfaction by taking some risks to improve value? I don’t think so.

After writing them, I found that there was a theme to these questions – we need to question what we are doing to make sure that we are adding value by doing what needs to be done to satisfy purpose or meet need or create value. Call it what you like, just do it.