The world has never changed so fast and the public sector is far from exempt from such change. The needs of the general public, the economy, technological advances and new ways of working have all changed the shape and scope of the public sector over the past few years.
Static is no longer an option and you can’t sit back until you have next year’s improvement plan in the bag, ready to go at a moment’s notice. Or a five year plan if you’ve recently had to submit a Sustainability and Transformation Plan…
To keep up with these changes, ongoing reviews and improvements are needed, although I appreciate this isn’t always easy. Particularly when resources are diminishing along with budgets and of course people. My advice? In the context of identifying further improvements you could make in your service, the best you can do is to focus first on what you want to achieve and be alert to your changing environment.
In deciding on the scope of the improvements you intend to deliver, you will need to consider your own particular context, and that of your service, your organisation and your environment. Austerity may be something of a buzzword right now and is likely to remain so for several years, but at some point, it will be replaced by something new, but which will nevertheless probably incorporate basic assumptions of austerity and performance improvement as givens – and some form of public sector service ‘deflator’.
Look at changes – big and small – that can potentially make a difference. And some of these changes need only be small.
Frederick W. Taylor was an American inventor and engineer, and is considered the father of ‘scientific management’. His influential theory enabled industry to move away from management by ‘rule of thumb’ and be more efficient and prosperous.
He had some very clear yet simple ideas that continue to form the basis for many improvement processes, including increasing specialisation and division of labour and systematically analysing the relationship between workers and tasks, enabling redesign of processes to ensure maximum efficiency. One of his more memorable suggestions was to give workers ‘bigger shovels so more grain could be lifted with each action.’
Don’t over complicate ideas if it isn’t necessary, sometimes it’s the most simple ideas that can have the greatest impact. And remember, we don’t always need to think big to make improvements.