Getting stuff done really matters. In these cash strapped, outcome driven times we need to be extra careful that what we do delivers real value for our customers. In the Public Sector this means focussing on creating value for the Public and making efficient use of public resources.
But what does that actually mean? How can Leaders be delivery focussed AND strategic at the same time without feeling like they're being pulled in opposite directions?
I’ve mentioned previously how important it is that Strategic Leaders don’t get embroiled in the day-to-day, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be interested in the delivery aspect of their business – far from it! A clear understanding of who the customer is and what drives them should inform the vision and communications that come from the top.
So here are four sign-posts to some big ideas and useful resources that I hope will help you make delivery your strategy, without losing your strategic focus!
- Be careful not to design systems for the benefit of the organisation or those within it. Effective organisations are delivery focused and customer facing (even when your customers are students / patients / citizens). You might consider investigating Design Thinking tools or Customer Journey mapping to help you find opportunities for improvement. (Design Thinking helped someone from the NHS I was working with last week have a real 'ah-ha' moment!)
- Be cautious of simple solutions for complex problems. Particularly in the public sector many of the front line problems are complex because they involve people with multi-layered needs. Sometimes efficiency led, process driven solutions miss the relationships between component parts that are crucial to the smooth operation of the system as a whole. For this reason Systems Leadership (leading from the front and across organisations) is becoming an increasingly popular model.
- Empower, don’t interfere. If you are a Strategic Leader wanting to get more involved on the delivery level of your organisation be careful to do this by empowering those in the middle rather than getting stuck in yourself. (Here’s a great resource about engaging middle managers to implement strategic change; I've put some of these ideas into practice with middle managers at Tower Hamlets Council.)
- Take care with targets. What we measure drives what we do. Sometimes it’s easy to measure the things that are easy to measure, rather than the things that matter. Good delivery is outcome focussed, and good targets and measures should help you understand whether you are meeting those outcomes. Taking care on how we set, measure and follow up on targets really can keep an organisation on track. In complex settings, this is especially important.