Less really can mean more: Organisational transformation for more efficient, cost-effective public-service delivery
As austerity continues to bite, demand for the services of public sector and not for profits grows. We are all being asked to do more with less. The challenge of leveraging the benefits of technology in often legacy environments, an ageing population, changing regulatory legislation and greater public scrutiny are just some of the issues making operating environments more complex and pressurised. And this is all against a backdrop of uncertainty as the UK negotiates its exit from the EU.
This has always been a demanding sector. Even though funding is being squeezed, the demands and expectations of service users and regulatory bodies are higher than ever. The drive towards greater efficiency is relentless. In such uncertain times, the need for strategic, tenacious and adaptable leaders, with the capacity to deal with the pressure and scale of current and future challenges, is pressing.
Progressive public organisations are looking to the best private-sector practices for inspiration, adopting people and change initiatives to transform their organisational cultures, develop new operating models and get the very best, in terms of performance and productivity, from their people. In particular, they are looking to leverage the latest social, mobile, data, and cloud technologies to enhance service delivery. As a result, competition for the best digital change-making talent is fierce.
Seymour John’s experienced public and social sector consultants offer deep specialist understanding and insight for organisational improvement across the following sectors:
- HealthcareThe perrenial pressure for healthcare leaders is the drive to deliver more for less – better quality care with smaller per-person budgets. And a growing and ageing population means demand keeps rising. In a digital world, where consumers are used to accessing products and services across multiple platforms, there is also a drive to leverage the latest technologies to engage with service users in new and innovative ways. Add to this the changes in the way services are commissioned – alongside shifting government led regulatory, legislative and target-driven requirements – and the environment for healthcare service providers is becoming ever more challenging.The sector is looking towards strategic, visionary leaders who are able to re-imagine business models to meet the relentless calls for cost savings, greater efficiency and better value. This means exploring new ways of service delivery to meet ever-increasing demand. The new frontier for many legacy healthcare providers is the attraction of digital change-makers. Whether it is end-user engagement, research and development or enhanced service delivery, technology is becoming an essential driver in this sector.
- Government and public bodies – government departments, regulatory agencies, state-owned companies, public utilities, infrastructure bodies and municipalitiesGovernment and public bodiesAs with the whole of the public sector, the focus for government bodies and public organisations is maintaining often vital public services in the face of savage budget cuts. Systemic change is often required to drive the necessary performance efficiencies needed for organisational success. Attracting the right leaders to oversee such change, in these often complex, bureaucratic and socially and politically sensitive environments, is an ongoing challenge. Again, many public organisations are falling behind the best private-sector companies when it comes to harnessing the potential of technology. This doesn’t mean simply digitising existing processes and services. Organisations need to utilise technology to fundamentally re-invent the way in which they work.
- EducationEducation is a fast-moving sector. Organisations are becoming fully-fledged businesses in an increasingly competitive and global marketplace. Again, technology has become an important driver, along with the need for visionary, strategic leadership. Politically astute, leaders need to keep a range of stakeholders happy – from staff and students to parents and regulatory bodies. They also need to be commercially savvy, developing and managing complementary commercial partnerships, and ensuring course content and delivery is always relevant. Some of the most progressive organisations are realising efficiencies through economies of scale. Here people and change initiatives are key as they actively pursue merger and acquisition strategies.
- Emergency Response ServicesThese vital, high profile public services teeter on a knife edge between the drive for cost savings and greater efficiency and the ability to respond effectively whatever the scale of the emergency. As organisations look towards private sector business models for inspiration, they are recognising the need for leaders who are able to implement cultural transformation. Moves towards centralisation and the sharing of resources and a mix of public/private sector provision means entrenched working practices need to change. Development and implementation of carefully considered people and change strategies, therefore, are becoming increasingly important; as too is the utilisation of the latest technologies. It is an important driver in this sector as leaders look to new operational models that join up service delivery at a regional level and yet still retain agility locally.
- HousingAs local authorities continue to operate stock transfer and ALMO policies for housing, the market is becoming somewhat fractured. At its best, it is an approach that can be community-centric, putting tennants at the heart of the decision-making process. All too often, however, these policies can lead to fragmentation in the delivery of services. The most successful models are joined up and collaborative, where local authorities work together with housing associations and RSLs towards the same strategic vision. With the right visionary leadership, they can become a catalyst for the regeneration and remodelling of whole neighbourhoods to the benefit of everyone.
- Local GovernmentThe way local government does business is changing. The complex mix of private and public sector service delivery means working inevitably needs to be more collaborative and partnership based. Against a background of budget cuts and rising demand for services, it needs to be more efficient and cost-effective, too. This requires leaders who are commercially astute and strategic in the way they navigate the social, political and economic demands placed upon them – both internally and externally – leaders who are able to affect cultural change and transformation programmes across often unwieldy, traditional and still unnecessarily bureaucratic organisational structures. Again, the need to leverage technology in what are usually legacy environments has become a prerequisite for success.
- Not for ProfitIn a climate of austerity, the role of charities and other NFPs is socially and politically more relevant than ever. The challenge is remaining true to the passion of the founding mission, whilst professionalising the way in which it is met. Increasingly NFPs are turning to the private sector to attract leaders from a range of sectors to secure the agile, commercial, strategic leadership necessary for the kind of organisational evolution that will enable them to thrive even though funding is becoming harder to secure. Attracting and retaining the right talent has, therefore, become a mission-critical priority.
- Professional bodiesAs the portal between the public and its members, a professional body plays an important and distinctive role. Always niche and often complex to run, their role is dual – in terms of the advocacy and services it offers to members it represents and the regulatory assurance it provides to consumers. This means they are, at the same time, both inward and outward looking in their focus. Extending a professional body’s reach, either way, requires the attraction of dynamic and innovative leaders.
At Seymour John, we understand the complex and challenging environments in which our public and third-sector clients operate. From talent attraction (Finance, Regulatory, Change, Technology and Executive), retention and development to change and transformation initiatives, check out our core competencies, on the right, to read in more detail about how we help them to evolve and thrive.