It may be the time of festive cheer, but for many of our colleagues in the public sector there has been little to cheer about as redundancy notices and services cuts begin to be announced. One recent announcement made it plain that redundancies were going to lead to reduced services.
On the flipside, many councils and NHS organisations are planning to handle the cuts in a more measured way – not through straight numbers off the payroll, but through systems and service re-engineering. My comments on Twitter that this was a much better approach were met with agreement, but some quarters still blamed the government’s haste for the manner in which some cuts are being pushed through.
It reminded me of the Systems Thinking conference I attended in November in October, and I thought I’d return to some of the headline comments made there: because the merits of genuine systems thinking approaches were made clear by those speaking, including the Cabinet Office who were first up. They highlighted the fact that systems thinking is staff-led (not done to staff); “We can’t afford to not invest in this,” Tristran Chapman insisted. Here I will list the other headlines:
- It takes 100% commitment from leadership, both in words and behaviour, to work
- It’s all about people
- It’s an opportunity for front line public sector staff to take control of the agenda
- Build your capability in systems thinking
- Adapt don’t adopt
- Give staff ownership and control using visual management boards of targets and performance. “Make the invisible visible”
- Systems thinking doesn’t cause job cuts – the spending cuts do
- It’s not about doing more for less, but doing better for less
- Not about cost reduction, but about waste reduction
- Not about technical changes, but cultural and behavioural changes
- Clear and effective communication is vital
- Understand the customer and perceptions of value
- Identify and understand the value stream
- Enable value to flow
- Let the customer pull the value through the process
- Continuously pursue perfection
- Key challenges are resistance to change and poor data
- Needs to have uncompromising top management support
- Strategic leadership
- A strong focus on needs of customers
And finally, an excellent top 10 issues, counting down our Christmas Lean top 10…!
10 – Build a strong internal cadre
9 – use small early pilots and prove the concept
8 – focus on benefits realisation
7 – Enterprise end to end
6 – Central control and implementation
5 – Don’t underestimate the role of leaders
4 – One size doesn’t fit all
3 – Align with Human Resources
2 – Get senior endorsement
1 – It is hard work!
Happy Christmas and good luck going forward in these challenging times.
Richard Forshaw, ICE