31 July 2015

Innovation in inertia – the cultural barrier

Innovation in inertia – the cultural barrier image

I recently attended a roundtable event held with the Municipal Journal, which explored how the government’s fiscal plans would impact on local services. There was much well-informed talk of the end of efficiency-based savings and the need for a more ‘outcomes-based approach’, but the two things that struck me most were the huge cultural barriers to change and the skills gaps faced by all the organisations represented in the room.

This was borne out by our recent research. More than 70% of those questioned expect culture to be a major barrier to transformational change, while a similar amount (64%), feel lack of skills will be a problem.

Most around the table agreed that local public services in their current guise have reached the limits when it comes to cuts, and that a new approach needs to be taken that places citizens and their needs at the heart of service transformation, rather than legacy structures or attitudes.

Similarly, many around the table agreed that a small number of service users can often account for very significant levels of of expenditure, yet local authorities and partners often haven’t identified why, or in some cases, even who they are.

So perhaps before any meaningful transformation can happen, there needs to be a full and frank evaluation of what can actually be done to improve outcomes, and in turn, save money, even if that means spending some money in the short-term. I would argue that, in order for this approach to stand a chance, information must be at the heart of it.

The way technology unlocks and makes sense of information will really drive transformation. Only when those responsible for delivering services can see where the roadblocks lie and understand what is at the heart of those issues by taking an end-to-end view, rather than service-by-service, will they understand what to change. ‘Big data’ and ‘the Cloud’ are overused terms but underused options, and the adoption of common technologies and standards will help integrate, join and transform place-based services.

Round the table many understood the need to avoid working in silos, for example, the need to better integrate health and social care, but there was a sense that this subject, along with many other assumptions and ingrained ways of working, hadn’t been challenged using a thorough evidence-based approach.

Similarly, assumptions about the root causes of social isolation and other modern ills are not always subjected to enough scrutiny. A good example is the enduring myth that the older generation does not use technology, despite mounting evidence to the contrary. With a desire to stay independent longer and a need to keep older generations out of expensive care settings, now is the time to focus on the use of assistive technologies.

By taking an intelligence-based approach where nothing is perceived as “off limits”, a true picture of service needs and delivery is more likely to emerge. This in turn will highlight funding gaps, skills gaps, and help drive cultural change.

Tom Baker, Development Director - Future Cities, BT Global Services

Highways jobs

Senior Practitioner - Placement Finding Team

Essex County Council
£28500.0 - £50400.0 per annum
Senior Practitioner - Children and Young People Placement Service- Placement Finding Team Interviews to be held on the 10th September at County Hall, England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

People Information Analyst

Essex County Council
Up to £33330 per annum
Please note this is a fixed term contract role for a duration of 12 months. Essex County Council (ECC) is one of the largest and most dynamic local au England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Key stage Officer

Royal Borough of Greenwich
£32430 - £34794
Key Stage Education Officer (Secondary Phase) to work with children in our care, supporting them in classrooms and in their homes with their education SE18 6HQ
Recuriter: Royal Borough of Greenwich

Solicitor/Barrister Advocate - Children’s x4

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
Band I, SCP 44 - 47 (£46,564 - £49,538 per annum) (£24.14 - 25.68 per hour)
To act as the principal advocate for all aspects of advocacy legal work relating to the children’s social care in the county court and high court. Sandwell Council House, Freeth Street, Oldbury B69 3DE
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Business Support Officer

Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council
Band C, SCP 5 - 8 (£18,795 - £19,945 per annum) pro rata (£9.74 - £10.34 per hour)
The successful candidate will provide administrative business support to service teams within Adult Social Care, Health and Wellbeing. The Lyng, Health & Social Care Centre, Frank Fisher Way, West Bromwich, B70 7AW
Recuriter: Sandwell Metropolitan Borough Council

Local Government News

Latest issue - Local Goverrnemnt News

The June issue of Local Government News contains the full details of all the winning schemes in the 2019 Street Design Awards. From Children's Play to Pedestrian Environment, find out who has been recognised for their innovation and use of best practice.

This issue also explores how local government pension funds can hedge currency risk, how councils can best address the shortfall in school places, and an update on the number of authorities banning the use of Roundup over safety fears.

Register for your free magazine