Creating Strategic Change vs. the 'Quick Fix' for Public Sector Performance

'Creating Strategic Change' is the next installment of a series of articles about creating efficient government. Read the beginning of the series here

To paraphrase my previous article in this series, 'doing more with less' is the new normal in the Canadian federal public service. And lots of other jurisdictions - provincial, municipal and even NGO's and non-profits - are facing the same fiscal pressures.

But 'quick fixes' will NOT remedy performance problems in fundamental business processes. Dramatic, long-term performance improvement can only be achieved by a strategic change in how your business is conducted. I've written before about what needs to be done; this article begins the explanation of how to do it.

Step one is documenting key business performance issues. By 'key' I mean those issues that are linked to your organization's major business strategies. Its likely that major strategies will cross functional boundaries; this means you need to take a process view rather than an organizational view of your business (more about in an upcoming article about process mapping).

Performance problems may crop up in data from your Performance Measurement System or as a results of customer complaints. You need to get clear on your performance challenges and expectations - this applies whether you are trying to 'fix' an existing business process, or responding to a new performance need.

You start by seeking information from select personnel engaged in the process. Structured interviews with senior management will identify and confirm the scope of the performance challenge or requirement, and goals for improvement. Front-line management can provide the context and possible constraints for proposed solutions.

Let me emphasize this point again; taking a process view means your interviews will most likely span more than one organizational boundary. This is critical to success, and - BIG POINT - you are most likely to find significant opportunities for major change at these organizational boundaries.

So, do your homework, and document the challenges, scope and relevant background of your current performance issues. The good news is, this exploratory phase is fairly quick and fairly cheap; you can then use this information to make a 'go/no-go' decision to proceed with your change initiative.

If you would like to explore the opportunities for strategic change and performance improvement in your organization, please contact PRS Vice President Charlie Snelling at 613 744-4084 or to arrange a no-obligation interview. You can also use the contact form here

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