O to Q

Organisational change.

Revolutionisation’ is the term given by Tim Whistler to what happens when new CEO’s 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.

Operational excellence

Operational excellence is sometimes spoken about in local government when the discussion turns to high performance. What is it, how can you achieve it, and does it matter if you have an excellent organisation or not?

It is well known that individuals have comfort zones. Organisations also have comfort zones where their leaders are most at home. Organisational comfort zones can be aligned with stages in operations improvement to show where you currently are in relation to where you could be. Does your community want you to move out of your comfort zone and towards operational excellence?

Operations management

Minor forms of civil insurrection are becoming evident in local government with guerrilla gardening, depaving, and, now, comedy penis graffiti. Is it just another way for people to signal their dissatisfaction with councils? Or does it show that some councils are out of touch with the needs of their community?

While strategy is critical to determine the business model, there is a need for operations capable of implementing strategy. To do this, an operations strategy is required. It can be developed top-down, bottom-up, in response to market requirements or from an operations resources perspective. Operations capability is central to Mark H. Moore’s strategic triangle in creating public value.

Service operations improvement using a ‘service action plan’ is discussed by Colin Weatherby based on a case study through his work. The process of developing the plan in collaboration with team members is discussed. The link to service redesign using the basic reengineering principles of ‘separate, relate and integrate’ is discussed in a follow up piece. Both posts provide advice on how to initiate sustainable and continuous service improvement processes.

Performance appraisal

Performance appraisals, and the associated performance development plan, are increasingly being relied upon to fulfil several important management purposes. But are they up to it? In a series of posts the effectiveness of performance appraisal in local government is discussed. 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.

Tim Whistler relates a performance appraisal story – what does ‘meeting expectations’ really mean?

Performance management

Gordon Ramsay is a vocal critic of poor operations management in restaurants. He is the highest profile critic of operations management and his ‘Kitchen Nightmare’ series is highly instructive for anyone responsible for an operation. In an imaginary script for an episode ‘Kitchen Nightmare’ he assesses the performance of local government as if it were a restaurant. Hopefully it is both entertaining and thought provoking. What would Gordon Ramsay say?

Performance measurement captured the attention of a couple of writers. Lancing Farrell discusses the difference between measures, targets, KPI’s KRA’s and CSF’s.  Links are made to the writing of John Seddon and Mark H. Moore.

The ideas of Geary Rummler and Alan Brache are used to describe an approach to local government performance measurement  and a link is made with Mark H. Moore’s Public Value Scorecard.

Colin Weatherby describes how he responds to a request to build a dashboard and he provides a case study in performance management thinking. The case study continues in two further posts that refine the thinking around performance questions and appropriate measures.

Advice is provided 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? A detailed explanation follows of the process for managing performance, including worked examples, again based on the work of Geary Rummler and Alan Brache.


Planning in local government needs to improve and it gets a thorough airing in a series of posts. The current organisational planning processes is critiqued and the failure of councils to deliver the 100’s of actions that find their way into the annual Council Plan.  Would councils benefit from having an organisational business plan? Are there better ways to better integrate planning?  Is planning integrated simply because everyone does it at the same time? If you had integrated planning, what would it look like?  What is the role of the Council Plan? (post 20).

The series provides commentary on how to develop plans that are realistic, achievable and focused on delivering the value expected by the community. Constraints identified include the need to work within legislated requirements and the need for leadership to really understand ‘the business’ to be able to implement a ‘top down’ and ‘bottom up’ planning process.

Are policies and strategies becoming convenient but ineffective solutions to difficult problems, devices to avoid doing something that needs to be done, or just a way to be seen to be doing something?


Public service job cutting has a direct link with productivity. Some key messages from the Centre for Policy Development report False Economies: Unpacking public sector efficiencies are discussed. It is importance to define public value so that any changes to resource levels can be made in the knowledge of the impact they will have on the value produced.

Professional development

In a philosophical view about development of local government professionals, the Australian song writer and singer Paul Kelly’s song ‘Deeper Water’ is discussed.  Do we progressively get in deeper and deeper to develop our skills, or do we just get out of our depth? You decide.

The local government reading test is designed to determine whether leaders learn by reading and it has produced interesting results. If leaders don’t read, how do they learn and improve?  This is like NAPLAN for our leaders.

Project management

Councils all seem to be talking about Project Management Offices as the solution to failure in capital works delivery and to respond to the increasing number of capital and non-capital projects being undertaken. Is the ‘projectisation’ of council services a good move? You decide.

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