Annual Public Sector Innovation and Performance Management Conference16-Jun-2016
The Annual Public Sector Innovation and Performance Management Conference, an international conference focusing on innovation in the public sector and the link between management and performance, offered expert insight into re-evaluating performance strategies, how to incorporate innovation into existing systems and structures, benchmarking success and cultivating excellence by strengthening ownership and leadership.
The conference was facilitated by Nottingham based Professor Peter Totterdill, the CEO of the UK Workplace Organisation Network and an acknowledged thought leader and advocate of creating workplaces which combine high performance with a high quality of working life.
Peter Totterdill said: “Public sector organisations that were fit for the 20th Century are unlikely to be fit for the 21st unless they embrace far-reaching change. Leaders and managers have to respond to an increasingly volatile environment in which innovation is a necessity. Yet they are often constrained by unresponsive organisations and workplace cultures."
Q&A from the event:
What are the top 5 challenges faced by performance excellence managers and government organizations’ directors today?
Public sector organisations fit for the 20th Century are unlikely to be fit for the 21st unless they embrace far-reaching change. Leaders and managers have to respond to an increasingly volatile environment in which innovation is a necessity. Yet they are often constrained by unresponsive organisations and workplace cultures. In short, they have to deal with:
- the increasing complexity of social and economic problems in an unpredictable global economy;
- increasing demands for public sector transparency and accountability from knowledgeable citizens informed by the internet and social media;
- the constraining effects of rigid organisational structures that limit the ability to provide joined-up services to meet complex needs;
- risk-averse cultures that inhibit experimentation and learning;
- a new generation of public sector workers with different expectation of life and work.
How do you see strategy execution in terms of a matter of alignment or engagement in companies?
Senior management teams and politicians often see their organisations as a black box: you put the instructions in and the results come out at the other end. The problem is that there is often a vast organisational distance between those responsible for strategic decision making and those responsible for delivery – yet the latter group possesses the tacit knowledge and experience that knows how to make things work, and what is never likely to work in practice. Good public sector organisations that deliver service excellence value “employee voice”, using feedback and ideas from frontline staff as a powerful resource for improvement and innovation as well as for strategic decision making. Their senior management teams enhance their own competence and insight by engaging with frontline staff and service users on a regular basis.
Why is it important to add values to innovation and performance management?
High performing, innovating organisations align workplace practices, management behaviour and organisational culture towards a shared vision, shared goals and shared values. Innovation and high performance cannot be seen as an add-on: they need to be embedded in every aspect of working life. This is why many organisations fail to achieve sustainable change.
Any added views you wish to highlight on your upcoming expert presentation at this event?
Yes. Sustainable innovation and high performance is achieved by recognising the force of the better argument, no matter who makes it. Sometimes the best argument comes from the most junior person in the room and this can be hard for senior managers to accept. The best leaders are those who cherish and nurture ideas and insights from everyone - and they even encourage difficult questions!
Why doesn’t the standard performance evaluations used improve engagement or results in the company?
We know from extensive research and experience that “what you measure is what you get” – in other words managers and staff will direct their efforts towards the measurable targets against which they will be evaluated. Unsurprisingly this distracts them from the intangible outcomes that often make a real difference to service users and citizens, and improvement and innovation can be amongst the first casualties. Sustainable high performance means continuous reflection, improvement and innovation involving staff at every level. We need to see the time involved in such activity as indispensable, not as an occasional luxury.
What can managers do to bridge the creativity and innovation gap in their governments’ performance?
Be courageous. Ask difficult questions. Look at the organisation as a whole and ask whether its workplace practices, systems, procedures and management behaviour enable staff at every level to use and develop their full range of skills, knowledge, experience and creativity in their day-to-day work.