At the end of my last blog post, I said that the key to surviving the impending changes across public services is to present your service in the best way, ensure everyone understands what you do, how much it costs and why they should ‘CHERISH’ your service.
CHERISH is a seven-step programme that can be rapidly applied to any service. It is particularly suited to the need to demonstrate improvement and public engagement. I use CHERISH deliberately to invoke the emotion and passion you should feel about your service. If you do not feel it, why should others care? The New Public Sector is typified by the public being more aware of what they are paying for and caring more about the services they truly value. (I’m not claiming this is rocket science by the way, quite the opposite. These are common sense steps that I think public service managers should be using, if they aren’t already.)
Each of CHERISH’s seven letters stands for a component part of a common-sense technique for improving your service. The acronym serves as a simple way to remember what you are doing and to convey the message to others: ‘I want you to CHERISH my service’.
By asking the public to CHERISH your service, you will go through steps leading to clarity, service improvement and cost reduction. All of those outcomes help you demonstrate to those looking for soft and easy targets that you have been brave. Not satisfied with the status quo, you have taken action. You have improved. And the outcomes of your actions are clear. You have embraced the future of the New Public Sector.
- CLARITY – Be clear about what your service delivers so the average person understands your message and cares about your service.
- HOW MUCH? – Identify the cost of your service and present it in a way the average person understands.
- EVALUATE – Develop a way for the average person to compare the cost of your service with others and judge whether you are offering great value.
- REPORTAGE – Devise ways to get your message out to the public and ask them the CHERISH or PERISH question.
- IMPROVE – Improve what you do based on the feedback from your Reportage stage and prepare an improvement plan that the average person would recognise as a promise to get better.
- SHARE – Connect your staff with the improvement plan so that each one of them becomes an ambassador for your service.
- HELP – Commit to supporting at least three other public sector services in the coming twelve months and help them deliver the same outcomes.
But remember that CHERISH rhymes with PERISH, neatly reminding us of what the likely consequence of inaction will be. CHERISH or PERISH?