82 – Is it a strategic decision?

Posted by Colin Weatherby                                                         500 words

yes no maybe

How to Tell which Decisions are Strategic’ is the title of a paper by Ram Shivakumar published in the California Management Review in 2014. It attracted my attention because I have often asked that question myself. What is it that distinguishes a strategic decision from a non-strategic decision? Well, hopefully you will know more after reading this post.

The essential idea in the paper is that a strategic decision is defined by the degree of commitment involved and the implications for the scope of the business or organisation.   Let me explain. Continue reading

72 – Revolutionising local government. How long is it since you were last revolutionised?

Posted by Whistler                                                                          600 words

merry go round

I was talking to an experienced consultant who works with numerous councils recently and she commented about some of the councils currently undergoing ‘revolutionisation’. New CEO’s, in two cases new to the sector, were busily implementing their kitbag of management ideas. They seem to hit the ground running with a program of change. What are some of the features of revolutionisation and how effective is it?

I will start with effectiveness first. It depends on the measure. I can think of a few. Is it delivering on a promise to the councillors who appointed them to shake things up and create change? Is it is improving the performance of the organisation in meeting community needs sustainably in the longer term?

If it is the former, I would think they are mostly successful. Continue reading

71 – ‘Melbourne People’s Panel makes bold decisions where politicians fear to tread’, The Age, 1 April 2015.

Posted by Colin Weatherby                                                                         550 words

Peoples panel

“The public is smart if given the time and information necessary to work through an issue. And this has been demonstrated by a people’s “jury” which has delivered its verdict in a bold experiment in democracy by the Melbourne Town Hall.

The results should give hope to people despairing that Australia has lost its reform mojo, as it provides a new way for government to get hard but necessary things done.”

I read this article by Nicholas Reece, a Principal Fellow at Melbourne University, with some interest. Involving the community in budgeting is not new. Continue reading

62 – “The way to make it in local government is to forget ambition and pigeon hole yourself before someone else does”.

Posted by S. Dogood                                                               1000 words

pigeon hole

This was the advice I received during a discussion with a colleague this week.  Pigeon hole yourself he advised and local government becomes a good place to work.  In some ways he is right.  The discussion started me thinking about why that is the case and how it could be different.

The ambitious face a number of challenges.  First and foremost they can’t be threatening to the Executive.  Secondly, they need to be realistic about their skills and value.  Lastly, regardless of their own role breadth or experience, they run the recruitment gamut as there is always a hierarchy of preferred candidates for any role.  Hiring traditionally take the following hierarchy seeking to recruit someone who Continue reading

61 – Public value gap analysis. Some actions.

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

60 – Public value gap analysis. A tool.

Posted by Colin Weatherby                                                                         790 words

private public operation actual

One of the challenges in local government is understanding public value – what it is for your community and how you can create it. It can  be difficult to separate it from private value expectations and to see the relationship with the operating capacity of the organisation. This post explores a conceptual tool to understand public value and gaps that need to be addressed in achieving it.

Many years ago when asked to be the officer leading a community advisory committee I developed a model to help the group understand what we were talking about and to focus on gaps where we could be most effective in making a difference. It worked very well. At the time I didn’t really understand why. Now I think it was because is identified the public value gap that the group could work on. Here it is. Continue reading

54 – The four decision hats. What are your councillors wearing?

Posted by Whistler                                                                          630 words

I was in a workshop about Edward De Bono’s six thinking hats recently when it occurred to me that we could do with some decision hats in local government. Councillors could wear a different hat for each of their roles. This way they would be clear about what capacity they are acting in, and any onlookers would know as well.   Alternatively, a different hat could be worn to signal the type of decision being made. Here is how it could go.

Let’s start with hats representing the role or capacity that the councillor is acting in. Obviously, gender will influence hat selection for some councillors. I will do my best to select hats with universal appeal.

george washigtonWhen acting as politician, part of the local government to make decisions affecting constituents, a range of hats are potentially available. Continue reading