Stop changing the way people work!

It has occurred to me more and more recently that trying to get people to change the way they work is a pointless exercise and pretty hard work really especially if what you are suggesting challenges what they stand for and the very role they have become experts in over a number of years.

In my experience people don’t want to be told that what they do is “wasteful” or “inefficient” because it affects people on an emotional level and that can often make them even more resistant to change. I believe that fundamentally people want to deliver efficient services or do things in an efficient and effective way. I mean why would you do something if you thought you could do it better. We do this all the time in our personal lives. This is the reason I now do digital banking. More efficient use of my time.

Now before anyone shouts at me I am very aware that some people are keen to change and promote change but are often knocked back and then get frustrated in their roles.

However these people actually suffer from the problem I do. Trying to get people to change the way they work.

You might often hear “change is great as long as I don’t have to”. Well the best way to get around this is to adopt an ever so slightly different approach and it is really quite simple. In fact I suspect all of us already know what to do, but like myself get caught up in the culture and structures that support these views.

So what we really want to be doing is:

Change and challenge the way people THINK about their work.

We can not change the problems we have with the same thinking that created them. If we can can encourage people to step out of there daily roles and look at the outputs and outcomes they are directly or indirectly contributing to, you can start to have a better discussion around how best to deliver the service. After all people are often very passionate about the customer and delivering quality for them. This is essentially about looking outside in – a Systems Thinking view really- but it actually gives you the angle that encourages people to question how best to deliver for the customer, instead of focusing on their specific role.

There are of course challenges in facilitating that process and ensuring you look at the big picture around people, process, information and technology but the key for me is actually getting to the point where meaningful conversations about fundamentally transforming the service can be had.

It is often in these conversations that people come up with ways to change their bit of the process, that in itself is one part of the change management task completed as people are more likely to accept change if they can understand and own the change. This can remove some of the uncertainty and lack of understanding around the need to change in the first place plus and don’t underestimate this – it was afterall their idea and not yours.

So if we are really serious about Transformation and Radical Reform across the public sector then we must start giving people opportunities to think differently about their roles and services.

Without getting into a huge list here – how you can do that will depend on local circumstances and the type of service area you are hoping to engage or participate with, but could include:

– Action Learning sessions/programmes – bringing practitioners from different organisations together to review, challenge and “think” differently about service design. This could also be online through the Communities of Practice platform or other social and professional networks
– Art of the possible sessions – practical demonstrations of how services have been delivered elsewhere using technology as an opportunity for change.
– Connecting people for learning and knowledge sharing
– Discussions and conversations with service users themselves.
– A cross organisational group of people to provide peer review and constructive feedback and challenge
– Traditional consultants who are “experts” in service transformation.

There are many other ways you can achieve the above and it doesn’t really matter how you do it, but we must start focusing on the THINKING.

I’d be interested to hear any other ideas you have which have worked and helped contribute to transformational change.

So my challenge is to see how we can do this in Devon. The Enterprise Architecture function I sit within has a unique opportunity to facilitate this process as it is exactly what we are here to do. We just need to get our approach right to be effective. We may need to change our thinking about how we do our job as well.

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Working Together – Public Services on your side

In case you haven’t seen this, it sets out the reform agenda for public services and in my opinion it is a step in the right direction. but the real test will be in the implementation of course.

I focused my reading initially on sections “Strategic Government” and “Empowering Local Communities”

My only concern about this is it requires a fundamental shift in the way we think and plan services. Once size fits all approach won’t work and we need to be able to encourage and push the changes through without reducing the opportunities for local innovation and community involvement.

I believe we also need a competency framework moving forward to ensure , as there is a huge gap in understanding around some of the opportunities and service impacts.

In the meantime I will continue to push change here

Save the cheerleader save the world

save the cheerleader save the world

Last week, they (the chair fixing specialists) had to take my office chair which had broken on me whilst i was sitting back trying to ponder some new plan to save world, yes i actually do believe that…..i am also a big fan of heroes.

Anyway, at first i didn’t think losing my chair for approximately 2 weeks would be big deal, but i must tell you that my bottom is now missing the years of moulding it had created. The temporary chair for which i am grateful does not offer no where near enough comfort and i must confess i am feeling the strain.

I noticed this this morning whilst i was waiting for my laptop to boot up and connect to the network here, i decided to take a sneak peak at the book i purchased after the web 2 event last week (Here comes everybody, by Clay Shirkybuy it now from Amazon). After about the 5th page i was very uncomfortable and found it difficult to continue, so i stopped. How can i change the world in this chair!! I will continue at home later this evening.

I had intended on doing all the things i had put aside from Monday and Tuesday, as i was distracted by the social networking meeting which has actually got me thinking about a wide range of issues. But i was distracted today as well, i decided to download flock a social web browser, as a colleague (Martin) recommended it as a way to get around not be able to install adobe air on my laptop. I am very impressed with it, it pretty much does all i need a browser to do, but it could do with some other links to more formal sites like “istock”. but i can’t complain. I recommend it, if you find yourself moving around different applications to keep in touch (twitter, blogs, you tube, flickr etc). So thank you to martin who helped point me in the right direction.

I then spent a few hours going through web 2.0 and social media with a colleague and found myself, not out of character, going off topic. But i think i succeeded in spreading the message and passing on some knowledge.

The interesting thing about web 2.0 and social media is the concepts and approaches are important for us to share with other people as they can help shape local government in the future.

Now i am not sure where i heard or read this so do point it out if you know as it has stuck with me.

There are three rules of open source:
  1. 1.Nobody owns it.
  2. 2.Everybody uses it.
  3. 3.Anyone can improve it.
Our future thinking must view government more like a giant open source community. So far government ticks boxes one and two, no one person owns it and everybody uses it. Our task is to crack the elusive third point, ensure that every citizen has the ability to improve it.
It also got me thinking about how we spread the message, a communications exercise. Earlier this year i ran a small workshop inside my council entitled “blue sky discovery session – web 2.0 and social media” The aim of which was to get a small group of key business people in a room and talk to them about web 2.0 and social media and then open up discussion about what are there key issues and challenges. How could these new approaches (not technologies) help us think differently moving forward. It went well and i now have some great support for opening up social networking sites for all staff. But it still needs to be formally debated at our ICT programme review board. but i am very positive.
The success i think of the group was that it contained a mix of people who think differently about change and new ideas. This diagram will help show what i mean.
Where are you?
It is important i believe to ensure that we get a good representation of these types of people (be honest you all know some in each area). But they are critical to the success of projects and innovations.
One last thought, is Social Networking and sites like Twitter, the death of email? or do we see this like a postcode or address, a way in which we can obtain other things. Will we be encouraged to only have one email address to make things easier…

Navigating the future

I had a very interesting day today. I was at a Leadership workshop at Exeter University. It was facilitated by Liselotte Lyngsø from a company called Future Navigator. On the whole i thought the day was great, i watched and participated with people learning how to juggle with 3 balls and talking about larger toilet seats for the well endowed man…and these do really exist!!!

During one part of the morning Liselotte held up a sign which stated “quiet exams in progress”, which she had taken from the door, she raised the question, would this still be appropriate in the future , if young people are learning by collaboration and are sharing knowledge to get things done. If the expectation is that learning is partly a collective journey then how can you measure an individual. This also mirrors a culture difference between the West (United States of Me) and Asia (a collective approach). We need to start to think about this as leaders now as these are the workers and consumers of the future (i’m not talking hundreds of years i’m talking maybe 3-5 years) and it will be there expectations we will be aiming to exceed…

All i can say is that in some areas of my work rapid change will be required to embrace and support a new cultural co worker who will drive collaboration and knowledge sharing to new heights.

The workshop raised a lot of questions for self reflection which i will need to digest and no doubt use this blog to share some of those thoughts and reflections. One reflection i think i can share now is that i need to listen and hear what my kids are really saying to me more. They are only 2 and 4 years old but already offer insights and simple observations which are great to pull you out your normal frame of mind and get you thinking out of the box.

Now the weekend is upon us and i suppose many people will be waiting in line for petrol in response and in fear of a fuel crisis. Another point from today, how much of our lives are driven by our fears and not our hopes and dreams. For me at present it was slightly higher in the fear column then dreams, which is something i am now going to work on.

The question you need to ask yourself if you want to do the same thing is “why are you living?” This is something which is obvious when you turn up at events like today, but each moment of our lives should, in theory that is, be lived to the maximum, but the reality is that we are all struggling to balance the “wishful thinking approach to life” with the reality that actually happens. For most this may mean, putting things off for another day or week and for others it may mean skipping the gym and getting a pizza on the way home and not having time to spend with the family or friends.

All obvious stuff i think you will agree, but how many of us actually get the balance right?

Changing the subject we managed to get about another 15 strawberries from the allotment yesterday and each and everyone i managed to eat (the kids ate the most) tasted superb, fresh, juicy and so sweet.