Posted by Lancing Farrell 6500 words
Value is often mentioned in local government when talking about services, particularly ‘best value’. However, there is often inadequate understanding about the different types of value, the difference between private and public value, and how value is actually created and managed by an organisation. Sometimes there is the assumption that because we have been busy, that we must have created something worthwhile.
This essay brings together ideas from several earlier posts and is constructed around four hypotheses:
- That there are different types of value created by organisations and for local government public value is the most important.
- Public value is the primary value that must be understood and delivered if councils are to deliver what is expected by the community.
- Value-led management is a way of managing that could transform local government and make it more responsive and effective in serving the community.
- There are simple and effective tools that can be used to improve value creation in local government.
Hypothesis 1: There are different types of value and public value is the most important for local government.
In a metaphorical sense the value that you add is what you ‘bring to the party’. This is determined by what other people think you have contributed and by thinking about what the party would have been like if you hadn’t arrived.
There are different types of value and it is worth briefly considering the difference between private value and public value. Public value is the collective view of the public or community about what they regard as valuable, especially with regard to the use of public money and authority. Moore describes this as occurring along a spectrum from value that is obtained from public services that is essentially private value, similar to the concept of customer value, to public value that reflects the aggregate value expectations of citizens.
At the private value end of the spectrum, the focus is on the individual service recipient and delivering value that satisfies their expectations. At the public value end of the continuum, the focus is on achieving the social outcomes sought by the community or public. Continue reading
Posted by Lancing Farrell 4500 words
Customer service is, and should be, a major concern for local government. After all, councils are service organisations. Sometimes there is confusion about exactly what customer service means, how it relates to public service delivery, and what aspects of service are most important to get right in local government.
This essay focuses on three hypotheses:
- That ‘customers’ in local government are different to the customers described in most customer service literature and encountered by most service organisations.
- There are six main opportunities for local government to improve service to customers.
- There are simple tools available that can assist councils in getting service delivery and customer service right.
Posted by Lancing Farrell 3300 words
People in local government regularly discuss effectiveness and efficiency. Often this happens in relation to pressure on revenues, such as rate capping. Most of the discussion centres on efficiency rather than effectiveness, and opportunities to stop delivering those services that are seen as ‘cost shifting’ from other government. The efficiency discussion is often not well informed. Frequently it focuses on inputs while ignoring outcomes and public value. Any savings are usually equated with cost cutting, not creating the same value at lower cost.
Australian researcher and writer Christopher Stone has published several papers on ‘false economies’. Each addresses a different aspect of productivity and efficiency in the public sector.
“Everyone has the right to know that money is not being wasted; that it is being spent as efficiently as is possible.” Christopher Stone, Decoding Efficiency, April 2013.
So, what is efficiency and how does it differ from effectiveness? Continue reading
Posted by Colin Weatherby 1100 words
Systems thinking is potentially a great lever for improvements in the design and delivery of local government services. However, it will require a major shift in thinking about how work is designed and managed because the systems thinker is focussed on the purpose of a service from the customer’s point of view. This is a change from the needs of the organisation and the people working in it driving the design of work and delivery of services. Here are some thoughts building on the earlier post by Parkinson.
Local government needs to work harder to put the needs of customers first despite the realities of multiple and conflicting accountabilities, limited potential for increased income from rates, difficulty defining who the customer is, and increasing expectations of service levels, reliability and speed.
The principal focus of systems thinking is designing and managing the organisation with the customer mind. Continue reading
Posted by Parkinson 1400 words
A number of posts written have been written about public value by others (see Why do we provide the services that we do in local government?, Customer, client, citizen, resident or ratepayer. Who are we dealing with?, Applying the public value scorecard in local government services. Part 1. , Applying the public value scorecard in local government services. Part 2., Public value gap analysis. A tool., Public value gap analysis. Some actions., Making high performance happen through value-led management., and Value-led management in local government. Some further thoughts). This post is an attempt to provide a context for further thinking about public value in local government.
Common good and public value
The political philosopher Michael Sandel has identified that rising social inequality is leading to a separation in ways of life between the rich and the poor. He believes that when this happens there is no longer a common way of life because “they don’t use the same public institutions, don’t inhabit the same civic spaces, and don’t avail themselves of the same public services”. As a result, Sandel believes that we can cease to think that we are ‘in it together’ enough to even deliberate together as members of a political community to determine common good.
The gap between the rich and poor is growing in Australia. According to the Oxfam report ‘Still the Lucky Country?’, the wealthiest Australian are disproportionately influential and the poor are at risk of being marginalised and unheard. Extreme wealth provides the power to influence government policies that favour those with wealth, regardless of what would work best for the whole of society.
The common good is the ‘large’ form of public value. Continue reading
Posted by Colin Weatherby 500 words
Some time ago, I posted on what I would do if I was the CEO. This post is in a similar vein.
The new Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull called a mini summit last week and invited leaders from the worlds of business, unions, community organisations and think tanks to discuss the state of the economy and the best way forward for economic reforms.
Reporting about the planned summit reflected the openness of the new national leader to discussing ideas other than his own. It was a move that his predecessor failed to make. The Sydney Morning Herald described the summit as suggesting that the new Prime Minister is keen to discuss big ideas and ‘send a message of creative optimism’ to the leaders invited. The Prime Minister is quoted as saying that the summit is a ‘rare opportunity to achieve consensus on the most pressing economic and social issues’ facing the country.
I am not sure whether the summit reached consensus or whether it will really influence government thinking and action. It has certainly signalled a new approach by Malcolm Turnbull.
It occurred to me that local government leaders could take a similar approach. Continue reading
Posted by Colin Weatherby 630 words
In the first post I described a service catalogue and looked at where (and how) to start making one. This post discusses what to do next to refine the service catalogue and use it to improve organisational performance. I have no doubt that a service catalogue is essential to starting a discussion with the community about services required in a rate capped operating environment, however it should also drive continuous improvement by providing a focus for service reviews.
The ‘first cut’ service catalogue that defines services from the customer viewpoint and links that view to organisational structure, is really just the start.
Further analysis is required to determine the link between the service catalogue and organisational strategic plans (especially the council plan). This can be achieved by coding the spreadsheet of cost centres with the themes or key objectives or themes in the plans. This will allow further analysis by pivoting on different criteria. What is the link between council plan objectives, customer defined services and cost centres? Continue reading