“We cannot go on like this anymore!” “We need to fundamentally change; salami slicing budgets is of no use”. These are the battle cries across local government land. Many authorities, whilst applying large budget reductions are attempting fundamental service re-designs as major cultural change programmes. Our workstream will include examples of these. We will also feature heavily that many are seeking to transform their service operations by looking at new systems of service delivery. All kinds of organisational manifestations are under discussion but the main categories seem to be:-
- Co-production -where the citizen or user is part of the process of constructing the service
- Community ownership – where an existing service design is given to a community to run
- Mutualisation – where an existing service is transferred to an employee mutual
- Shared services – where an existing service is shared, usually with another local authority
- Outsource – where a service is operated by a private sector or not for profit supplier
Putting aside how truly transformational any of this is, an issue that we will return to later, there is a common theme that runs through each of these five approaches.
Whether an authority is sharing production, delivery or ownership of a service operation, ultimately it needs to know how to share! Many local authorities do not find this easy!
Using examples from local government and with interventions from local government, private sector and not for profit organisation speakers, our workstream will explore why we find sharing so difficult. Why are organisations so keen to give up authority over service delivery and staff conditions of service, but still want to maintain an iron grip on outcomes (and sometimes) cost? Is such an approach really possible?
Given the financial circumstances facing the public sector why has there not been a veritable tsunami of sharing, innovation and transformation? Are we really looking at a reductionist strategy, dressed up as a transformational one?
Our summit workstream will explore some of these issues, but will seek to go further. What are the characteristics of organisational cultures and of leadership styles that makes genuine sharing a possibility? It does not matter whether the process is a straight outsource or a more complex sharing approach, an authority needs to be able to understand its own approach to risk, command and control and decision making, before it can hope to be a success. What are the success factors?
Before we step onto the transformational dance floor we may wish to choose an understanding partner, but even before that we need to know the basic steps, and be able to hear the music. So feel free to comment as much as you like on our Strictly Transformational workstream!