The notion of continuous improvement has been applied in UK manufacturing since the early 1980’s. More recently, we have seen a similar philosophy come to life in the UK commercial services sector. The digitisation of public services is a powerful stride in the right direction by our public sector.
The culture and ethos needs brave and significant work though….
Efforts at productivity improvement in the public sector workplace are too often viewed as coming at the expense of public sector employees and very often the managers that oversee their work efforts/outcomes. When a civil service manager’s job grade is underpinned by the number of direct reports, incentives to challenge the status quo for smarter, leaner ways of getting things done is doubly muted.
Three linked ideas at embedding a continuous improvement ethos across UK public services:-
1. Make the conception and delivery continuous service improvement an embedded, non-negotiable component in every public sector job description.
2. Make the conception and delivery of public service improvement a “no-fear-of-personal consequences” component of everyday worklife for all involved in delivering public service.
3. Make every minister, civil servant and public sector budget holder responsible for delivering valued outcomes (from a service recipient’s perspective) in budget year two for 98% of the inflation-adjusted cost of budget year one.