New Ways of Working: from Strategy to Delivery
Local Authorities are facing challenges on all fronts: financial pressures continue while demand and public expectations grow, alongside concerns about councils having the capacity and capability to respond.
Local Authorities are facing unprecedented challenges over the medium term, including those relating to austerity and central government funding reductions, demographic pressures and technological change.
So far local government has continued to deliver and withstand these challenges, but there are growing concerns that the current approach may not ensure the long-term sustainability of some Local Authorities.
Many Chief Executives and Leaders recognise the need to do things differently – to take a more global ‘whole systems’ approach and look beyond their organisational boundaries and look more at the ‘bigger picture’. They recognise that they need to re-shape their organisation in order to respond to the challenges they face – with increasing demands being placed upon them together with resources that need to be re-educated, re-skilled, re-deployed, or a combination of all three.
It’s about responding to the needs and requirements of the people that councils serve – and understanding how best to fulfil this. Yet many councils don’t actively communicate with the residents they serve in order to build this ‘bigger picture’!
In conjunction with this, it’s also about recognising that public attitudes are hardening which also needs to be taken into consideration.
The public accept that there is a need to make cuts, but their patience is waning as the figures below indicate:
- In 2011, 47% of the public accepted the need for cuts, yet by
- 2013, this had fallen to 39%, and by
- 2015, this had fallen even further to 35%
This certainly helps to focus the mind on the magnitude of the job in hand!
Whilst some Chief Executives are confident that they have a good understanding of the cost of securing outcomes across their council, fewer still are confident they understand how to measure outcomes and their impact on service delivery.
It’s all about introducing ‘New Ways of Working’ which brings new risks and requires new skills and collaborative relationships. The ultimate challenge is to turn new strategies into new ways of working for staff, the public and partners that will ultimately make a real impact on realistic and achievable outcomes.
As always, there is no ‘magic wand’ that can be waved. Wouldn’t it be lovely if there was?
Crucially, it’s about taking everyone on a journey so that everyone is involved in the process and feels a part of the process. This needs to include staff, members and public alike – everyone! And this comes back to the art of Communication.