235 – My experience of management thinking in local government – Part 3: The frustrating years.

1000 words (9 minutes reading time)                                                        by Lancing Farrell

management experience pt 3

This is the last post on my experience of management thinking in local government. Writing about it makes it seem like a long haul. With hindsight, there have been lots of interesting ideas, many with potential value to improve services, but few with any practical method to make them useful. And less with a way to implement them across a diverse organisation like a council.

Sometime around 2017 I went back to seriously read more of John Seddon’s writing about the Vanguard Method. At this time, Vanguard had a launch for their Australian office in Melbourne, and I went along. Several Australian organisations, public and private, talked about their experience using the Vanguard Method. I wanted to know more. In 2018 I had the opportunity to fly to London and attend a masterclass on digital transformation being held by Vanguard. I met John Seddon and other senior staff from Vanguard. I also spoke with people from local government in the UK who had experience with the Vanguard Method.

This was fortuitous in the development of my thinking. After three decades I had arrived at an understanding of local government and the way it works that made me think systems thinking was the best way to improve the performance of services. The Vanguard Method provides a way to implement systems thinking that has been tested and proven in local government. It provides the method lacking in Public Value. It works with the culture prevalent at many councils. Continue reading

88 – Classic paper – ‘Managing the public service institution’. Peter F. Drucker.

Posted by Colin Weatherby                                                                         Long read 1900 words

Editors Note: This is the first of a new type of post – the long read. Rather than split long pieces or edit out important ideas they will be a run as a long read. It is only recommended for those scoring more than 7/10 in the local government reading test!

In this insightful paper published in 1973, Peter F Drucker looks at why public service organisations are less efficient than business enterprises. In it he reaffirms public services as being ‘load-bearing members of the main structure’ of modern society – a provider of services that are essential to society. Despite this importance, he says the performance of public service organisations is unimpressive. They have large budgets and require ‘ever-growing subsidies’ but are providing poorer service. Citizens are complaining about ‘bureaucracy and mismanagement’ in the institutions that are supposed to serve them.

Why was that the case in 1973 and is it still the case in local government today?