43 – Developing a dashboard for performance measurement. A case study.

Posted by Colin Weatherby                                                                         1000 words

mini dashboard

I was recently asked to create a dashboard for my unit with the intention that it function like the dashboard on my car (no this is not my car). This is to be done in the absence of an organisational dashboard or scorecard or performance reporting system. There have been a few posts on this topic by Lancing Farrell (here and here) and this post discusses the application of some of the theory.

I started by listing all of the current measures that are in place from external and internal sources of accountability. This included legislation, sector-wide improvement programs, customer satisfaction surveys, occupational health and safety accreditation audits, internal audit programs, culture surveys, organisational policies, and financial reporting. Some of these measures are applied continuously, some are annual and others occur periodically. All of them have some organisational or public reporting of performance. This list was very much a list of things that other people think it is important to measure about the performance of the department. For whatever reason.

Then I made a list of all of the things that I think it is important to measure to know work is being done properly. Continue reading

42 – How do you listen to the ‘voice of the customer’ in local government? It can be done.

Posted by Lancing Farrell                                                                                              740 words

This post follows an earlier post Customer, client, citizen, resident or ratepayer. Who are we dealing with? It takes the concept of value further by proposing some tools that can be used to understand what customers expect and whether those expectations have been met.

I will start with Peter R. Scholtes and his views on the ‘customer-in mentality’, which he says is characterised by ‘thoughtfulness, responsiveness, empathy and altruism’. Customer-in thinking increases the likelihood that customers will get what they need – and need what they get. Listening to the customer is the beginning. Scholtes says we can start to do this by paying attention to what customers say when they contact us to make complaints, ask questions, or request services. Councils typically count the number of resident contacts. Some differentiate between service requests and complaints. Few actively evaluate what customers are asking about or saying to obtain qualitative data to guide service improvement.

Alternatively, or in addition, we can initiate contact with the customer to solicit information through surveys, interview or focus groups. Continue reading

39 – Applying the public value scorecard in local government services. Part 2.

Posted by Lancing Farrell                                                                                             780 words

This post continues discussion of the Public Value Scorecard by looking at the scorecards for legitimacy and support and the operational capacity.

Legitimacy and support scorecard

This scorecard links the external demands accountability in the authorising environment of the organisation, with ongoing public discourse on public value. The demands for accountability in the public sector are continuous and come from several sources. Individuals complain or join forces with others to form interest groups. The media amplifies the complaints of individuals and groups. Councillors represent their constituents and demand accountability. The Ombudsman, Auditor General and Local Government Inspector are powerful external sources of accountability. The real problem is that demands for accountability come from many different places and focus on different aspects of performance. Some are more disciplined and consistent than others. Continue reading

38 – Applying the public value scorecard in local government services. Part 1.

Posted by Lancing Farrell                                                                                              700 words

There have been a number of posts on public value (use the theme ‘public value’ to find them).  The idea that is is important and how it relates to private value has been discussed.  This post looks at how public value can be measured using the Public Value Scorecard. 

According to Mark H. Moore, public managers can improve the performance of public organisations by committing to the discipline of a public value ‘bottom line’. In the private sector, the ‘bottom line’ is a compelling and effective business concept. This post discusses the practical application of Moore’s public value scorecard in local government. Continue reading

33 – Developing an organisational performance measurement system. Some ideas.

Posted by Lancing Farrell                                                                                     820 words

I have been thumbing through ‘Improving Performance – How to Manage the White Space on the Organisation Chart’ by Geary A. Rummler and Alan P. Brache, in particular the chapter about performance measurement. In it they describe measurement is the single greatest determinant of an organisation’s effectiveness as a system, and as the primary tool for ‘communicating direction, establishing accountability, defining roles, allocating resources, monitoring/evaluating performance, and taking improvement action’.

I haven’t seen a local government that has actively used performance measurement this way. Instead, it tends to be driven by external accountability requirements. We use the performance measurement that we do to convince others that we are doing what we should. Continue reading

31 – Measures, targets, KPI’s, KRA’s and CSF’s. What are we talking about?

Posted by Lancing Farrell                                                                              740 words

There is a lot of talk in the public sector about measurement. Some people say that you ‘can’t manage what you can’t measure’ or, ‘what gets measured, gets done’. There is no doubt that measurement is inextricably linked to the pursuit of better performance and greater accountability. In local government, we seem to be desperately looking for things we can measure that will tell us how well we are doing. But are we measuring the things that count? Continue reading

30 – ‘The better things are, the worse they feel’. How so?

Posted by Colin Weatherby                                                                         700 words

This is the title of a chapter in Richard Farson’s rather interesting book Management of the Absurd – Paradoxes in Leadership. Farson is a psychologist, author, and educator. He co-founded the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute in 1958. His article on the ‘Failure-tolerant Leader’ is included in the HBR’s 10 Must-Reads on Leadership. He is a guy worth reading.

The idea that things feel worse when they are actually getting better appealed to me because of something a colleague said to me at work recently. Continue reading