Public sector reform – the answer starts with…?

I hate posing a question when I don’t feel I have something to contribute to the answer. So when asked what needs to happen to make the step changes required in our public service organisations, I felt challenged by the complexity. The truth is, the smallest local authority in this country (and I’ve worked with some) is way more complex than the largest global private sector company (and I’ve worked with some). So how do we make real change happen.

There’s a number of facets to this but let’s look at the starting point.

Energy and focus. People need to know what they are working towards and feel inspired and accountable for that. Most people in, for example, the caring professions got into that because they wanted to make a difference to people’s lives. They didn’t take it up to manage, or even improve, the efficiency of service delivery.

I recently worked with some senior people from Health and Social Care. It was quite striking that when these very clever people discussed impact measures, they kept reverting to process improvements (integration of Health and Care). When forced to look at patient outcomes (people self-sustained in their own homes) the lights went on. They really got the necessity of working collaboratively – “We can’t do this on our own,” and they wanted to make it happen – “You know, I’ve just remembered why I got into this profession.”

Of course we then get the barriers – “But you can’t do these things in the public sector.” How do we tackle that? For my next rant!