Austerity continues to affect the UK public sector with less money available to spend on public services, and therefore what is available must be spent wisely if individuals, groups and families are not to suffer. Public sector bodies and indeed not-for-profit ones, such as housing associations affected by public policy are being forced to reconsider how they operate and move towards different ways of working.
Business transformation is about responding appropriately to changes in market conditions, where the ‘old’ way of operating has been rendered ineffective. While severe funding reductions are currently the main cause of the need for business transformation in the UK, there are many other drivers that are forcing all organisations to review their current strategies and processes and consider how they can work more effectively.
Funding has never been easy but continuing austerity measures mean many budgets are limited. Over time, organisations have become increasingly aware of the need to satisfy service users, but we now have an opportunity to use the current challenges to refocus our efforts on creating new models of working with services delivered differently, and better service for our customers. A further pressure for public sector improvement is that more contracts are being opened up to other providers from the private or third sector and this means that public sector agencies need to become demonstrably more efficient and effective in order to compete.
The Ad Esse Approach
Although conditions are harsh and many managers are struggling with multiple pressures and problems, we see this need for business transformation as an opportunity for all. A real pressure for change is much more likely to create real transformation and continuous improvement. Ad Esse has been helping organisations transform for many years now and the most successful are always those where not succeeding is not regarded as an option. Organisations’ reasons for transforming may vary, but will almost always include the objective of providing better customer service at less cost, and importantly, by energising and enabling staff.
Ad Esse uses a variety of tools to drive continuous improvement. Each assignment is different and each need unique, but we have consistently seen Lean techniques, carefully crafted for each individual client, to be the most effective at delivering substantive, rapid improvement in parallel with the creation of a continuous improvement culture.
To deliver effective transformation we will work though a number of phases with our clients:
- Firstly, we work with senior teams and staff to help them recognise the need for change and to gain a consensus for moving towards different ways of working. Realistically we don’t expect everyone to commit to all-out transformation from the outset. We understand that some individuals remain sceptical, if not cynical, about the need to change or are upset by current conditions. We work with the consensus, aiming to change the situation rather than people’s attitudes as swiftly as possible
- Secondly, working with the managers and staff, we develop an understanding of what they are moving from and where it might be possible to go. This involves diagnostic work to develop a deep understanding of what needs to change, how, why, and what the priorities for improvement and constraints might be
- We then establish what the transformed organisation will be like – building a vision of how will it look, how users will experience it, how will staff feel, etc.
- We then work with managers to develop an effective transformation plan and timetable. Pacing the transformation is all-important. If the pace is too fast then services are likely to suffer and managers and staff may ‘burn-out’ before the change is effective. If the pace is too slow then there will always be something more urgent to do (if not more important!) and the programme will wither and die. Our perfect pace is one that creates some discomfort, but no pain. It must stretch staff and managers and take them out of their comfort zone, but must allow some scope for other priorities to be managed
- The next phase is service, process and structural redesign. This involves not only reviewing and changing process and functions, but also delivering services in completely different ways. Equally important is fundamentally changing the ways in which managers and staff communicate, and measure and manage their own performance. It is perhaps this step, and the manner in which we approach it that differentiates Ad Esse, and creates such sustainable improvements. The transformation model below shows the different activities we think are essential for a corporate transformation to be effective.
We then work with staff and managers to test and implement different ways of working, making things happen quickly, but in a controlled way, to deliver unequivocal improvement in quality and efficiency. We use tools to deliver the step improvement that executives want and other tools to create the continuous improvement capability that will allow staff to own the changes and to continue to deliver improvement after the first project is complete.
The diagram below shows the Ad Esse Business Transformation Model. Generally the first four steps have to happen in sequence – knowing where we are starting and where we want to get to before we set off is pretty vital! After that, the diagnostic and vision creation will point out the necessary change activities, and the order they need to be done in.
If you want more information about the individual steps of the transformation programme or want to know more about the tools applied during the implementation phase then please download our book ‘A Simple Guide to Public Sector Transformation’ available from Kindle for use on Kindle, iPad and other formats via the kindle app.
There are compelling reasons for UK public and not-for-profit organisations to transform. The outcome of individual service reviews (admittedly usually focused on the processes that are failing) is that we can work with clients to create a 20-30% increase in productivity and equal improvements in service quality (since failure activity and inefficiency usually go together).
When working with clients on a full organisational transformation we would expect to achieve:
- 20% improvements in productivity as a result of individual service reviews
- An increase in the organisational productivity of 15% plus
- A substantive increase in customer focus and customer satisfaction
- And achieve real culture change across the organisation – the reduction in silos, improvements in communication and a clearer understanding of what ‘good’ looks like for every member of staff.
Transformation is not easy; it takes time, effort, commitment, financial investment and sometimes very hard decisions. It can, however, also offer real opportunities to:
- Focus on what service users really need and want
- Concentrate on priorities rather than distractions
- Remove waste and inefficiencies
- Galvanise the talents and energy of all staff.
Every programme will look different in its implementation, but the phases of building consensus, understanding the current situation and creating a shared vision, must happen if your transformation is to be effective and sustainable. Good quality leadership is essential to enable; constancy of purpose, the ability to listen and the ability to challenge the status quo. We cannot replace poor leadership but we can help good leaders develop highly effective transformation programmes.
If you would like to know more, please contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.