Government Service Plan – amendment

I was pleased to support Deputy Fallaize’s amendment to the Government Service Plan and delighted that it was passed. The reasons why it required amending are set out in my speech below.

 

Sir, It might be considered either very eager or a bit sad, but I actually thought it might be a good idea getting hold of the book referenced in the report – Paul Joyce’s work on Strategic management for the Public Services – this little red book.  It cost me the princely sum of £1.09 from a well known online retailer btw. Whilst not stated in the report, this work is now  14 years old. So the whole idea of strategic management in the public sector isn’t new. And the concept of  long term vision and short to medium term strategy very much understood globally.

Now while I admit this is quite a dry subject and I would not recommend it if you want an exciting read, the book makes some useful points that are not brought up in this report but which I believe highlight the problems with the approach being taken.

A key point Joyce makes is that Strategic management is a challenging process for top managers. This is not because of the basic theoretical ideas of strategic management. It is the execution that is challenging. And he goes on to say that – the central challenge is to make desirable goals, external support and organisational capacity fit together.

Strategies are certainly not to be simply equated with statements in written business plans and strategy documents, they require effective change management.

And funnily enough, when I was ordering his book on Strategic management I found out he had already written one on that very subject – Strategy in the Public Sector – A Guide to Effective Change Management. So I thought I would get that one too – and this one cost me the grand sum of 1 penny.

A clear theme running through both books is that effective change management requires involving and communicating with those internal and external to the organisation and I think the importance of the first is particularly relevant in the context of this debate and so I will focus on that.

Joyce states that it is necessary to engage managers and staff because, by their very nature, these organisations comprise people who have to be persuaded and convinced. Strategy therefore provides the rationale by means which leaders engage managers and staff in change, and win their consent.

In January’s report on the FTP, paragraph 6.4 stated. The approach employed at the beginning of the programme proved problematic for several reasons. First of all, progress was slow because the importance of Departmental involvement had been underestimated and not all Departments were ready for the major change that was required to deliver the FTP. There was a lack of ownership and Departments felt that it was being imposed on them from the centre. Chief Officers felt that the original structure did not empower them to deliver the efficiencies within their

Departments were not always signed up to the projects identified and being developed as being those that represented the best opportunity for available savings within their Department.

A clear example of how you can’t undertake transformational change unless you engage. As Joyce goes on to say, ‘Simply publishing a strategic plan will not do it. It take unremitting work and relentless effort to make strategies real. People are only engaged by  a strategy if the managers work very hard at engaging them.’

In addition to the FTP, we also have the recent experience of the SAP implementation where a command and control method was again adopted from the centre. Those inside and outside the States are now suffering the consequences.

The question is, will it be third time lucky – will lessons have been learnt or will Departments have to go through pain and anguish all over again?

The terms in-house governance and support structure, centre of excellence and team of project and programme managers I am concerned that the same approach is being taken.

I don’t have comfort from this report that lessons have been learnt and I’m afraid  this was reinforced at the presentation given a couple of weeks ago.

The word ‘effectively’ is used 3 times in paragraph 11.2.3. Well, there is nothing in that paragraph that reassures me that the process will be effective. It sounds like a central command and control centre yet again with no acknowledgement of the need to work with others. We are told there should not be an expectation that busy operational staff should be able to take on key strategic projects in addition to the day job. But what should our expectations be?

We are presented with what is seen to be the necessary structure to do the job, but where is the evidence ?

I am concerned that we are being driven down what is supposed to be a accepted way of doing something with little evidence that it is the right way and with an upfront cost of £255,000.

And that is my other concern.

Paragraph 11.1.3 states that a one-off resource is required. However, the timescale is not clear, neither are we given any detail as to what we are being asked to approve – What is the £120k technology development? That’s a substantial sum.

We presently have every Department looking at making FTP savings. At a recent C&E Board meeting we went through proposals for forthcoming year where every service area was looked at in considerable detail to see where savings could be made and I don’t think I’m wrong if I say that is being replicated across all other departments. Yet here, where a substantial sum of money is being requested,   I am presented with a table of figures with no details or explanation of any of the line of expenditure. I can’t support that.

I am not against a Government Service Plan and I agree with some aspects of the report, which I will elaborate on in the main debate, but I don’t believe I have enough information in this report to make an informed decision as to whether the approach being taken is proven, appropriate or to use the word of the moment, effective.

It is for all the reasons above that I fully support Deputy Fallaize’s amendment and urge all other Members to do so.



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