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 Lancing Farrell 800 words
This is the first in a series of four posts on managers as designers in local government. It might seem like an esoteric topic and hardly relevant, however, every day managers make design decisions, often in ignorance. There is now a body of work on how managers can use design-thinking to improve the customer experience and organisational decision making. I challenge you to say it is irrelevant to your council.
Some years ago I read a book called ‘Managers as Designers in the Public Services’ by David Wastell (Professor of Information Systems at Nottingham University Business School). It made a lasting impression on me. Continue reading
Posted by Colin Weatherby 260 words
There have been a number of posts on services and customer service, with the most recent by Lancing Farrell . Each post has explored a different aspect of service or customer service. This post looks at customer experience using two excellent articles from the Harvard Business Review as a guide; the first is ‘Understanding Customer Experience’ by Christopher Meyer and Andre Schwager, and the second is ‘Lean consumption’ by James Womack and Daniel Jones.
In their article, Meyer and Schwager describe the customer experience as encompassing
“… every aspect of a company’s offering the quality of customer care, of course, but also advertising, packaging, product and service features, ease of use, and reliability.’
They make the point that in many organisations few of the people responsible for each of these activities have thought about how their separate decisions contribute to the overall customer experience. Worse still, if they do think about it, they all have different ideas and there is no one senior who oversees everyone’s efforts to bring agreement on what needs to be done. This is local government’s problem with service delivery in a nutshell.
Womack and Jones define ‘lean consumption’ as ‘minimising customers’ time and effort and delivering exactly what they want when and where they want it’. They see it as transforming consumption in the same way that lean production transformed manufacturing. It involves customers and service providers collaborating to ‘reduce total cost and wasted time and create new value’.
How are these two ideas relevant to the local government customer experience? Read on …
Posted by Colin Weatherby 2200 words
John Seddon won the first Harvard Business Review/ McKinsey Management Innovation Prize for ‘Reinventing Leadership’ in 2010 for this paper. The prize was awarded for:
“ … the best story (a real-world case study of management innovation) or hack (a bold idea for tackling a critical management challenge) around … redefining the work of leadership, increasing trust (reducing fear), and taking the work out of work.”
As the title suggests it is a provocative paper. In his usual way, Seddon provides challenging ideas supported by practical evidence.
The context for the story is Owen Buckwell, the head of housing at Portsmouth City Council in England. Over 40,000 people rely on him for warm, safe and comfortable homes. Each year he is responsible for dealing with 17,000 blocked toilets and 100,000 dripping taps in the 17,000 council houses.
Owen has been managing housing for 6 years. Seddon describes him as a curious man who likes to get to the bottom of things.
What does Owen do?
Posted by Colin Weatherby 1300 words
The public release of this critical report has been something of a surprise. Commissioned in March 2015 and released in May, the report prepared by Jude Munro, Dr Bronte Adams and Steve Parker has looked at three key capabilities; leadership, strategy and delivery. Each has been rated on a four point scale for several elements. Out of the ten attributes rated, six were seen as a ’development area’ and one as a ‘serious concern’. The remaining three were seen as ‘well placed’ and none were seen as ‘strong’ (p.14). So what does this mean?
The report states that this is the first time that this review model has been applied to local government in Australia. Its intention is to provide a forward looking, whole of organisation review that assesses an organisation’s ability to meet future objectives and challenges.
“This review provides the opportunity and impetus to take a very good organisation and make it even better.” Ben Rimmer, CEO
Posted by Whistler 530 words
Does everything seem to echo around? Messages are usually heard when they reverberate off distant walls? Management decisions are revisited regularly – ‘Hasn’t a decision been made on that already?’ Worse still are the matters that keep coming up, decisions aren’t made and they keep going up and down the organisational hierarchy. Perhaps your echosystem is afflicted by re-managing.
I suppose you are thinking what is ‘re-managing’. I didn’t invent the term. I have borrowed it from Managing the White Space by Geary Rummler and Alan Brache. They use it to describe the behaviour of senior managers when they re-manage the work already carried out by the managers below them. In local government the senior managers are typically Directors or Group Managers. You may ask why they find the need to do this. After all, haven’t they got more ‘strategic’ work to do? Continue reading
Posted by Lancing Farrell 430 words
There have been several posts on performance (here, here, here and here). The most recent by Colin Weatherby discussed his approach to developing a ‘dashboard’ for his department. This post is an attempt to consolidate all posts into an integrated performance management system based on the work of Geary A. Rummler and Alan P. Brache in Improving Performance – How to Manage the White Space on the Organisation Chart.
Before getting into the details of how to build a performance management system, it is worth thinking about what you are trying to achieve. From a management perspective, measurement specifically communicates performance expectations. It enables feedback to be provided against a standard and for any gap to be identified and addressed. Continue reading
Posted by Colin Weatherby 730 words
The idea that people are often in their comfort zones and that learning and improvement occurs when you move out of it has currency in local government today. The concern is that when people find their comfort zone they settle in and thereafter resist change, even beneficial change. Individuals are regularly being asked to leave their comfort zone and accept challenges. Does an organisation also have a comfort zone?
I think many organisations do – and they stay in them. It will usually be the zone that the organisational leaders, the council or the CEO and Executive, allow it to be in. Frequently, it is a place that they understand and there will be a level of challenge and change activity that the leaders are comfortable to support. The question is what is that level at your organisation? Continue reading
Posted by Parkinson 350 words
It has always intrigued me that the major suppliers of services to local government operate quite differently. What are some of the differences and why?
The first difference that is obvious is the investment in enterprise management systems. Some are better developed and more integrated than others but all have a third party accredited quality (ISO 9001), safety (AS4801), and environment (ISO 1400) systems. They will also have a corporate operations manual and a management manual setting out company policy and requirements. Continue reading
Posted by Colin Weatherby 280 words
I posted on a tool that can help to identify gaps in public value creation. This post briefly suggests some actions for each gap.
The first gap between actual performance and operating capacity, or potential performance, is best addressed though organisational processes to improve productivity. Recognising the gap is important and then it is in the hands of the organisation to justify its performance or improve it. Utilising all available operating capacity efficiently is the responsibility of organisational management.
Gap 2 requires something new to happen. It isn’t simply a matter of being more efficient and productive. Continue reading