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AUDIT COMMISSION PRODUCES GUIDE TO CHANGE AND IMPROVEMENT IN PUBLIC SERVICES

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Public services have no option but to deliver step-changes in performance if ...
Public services have no option but to deliver step-changes in performance if
they are to meet public and political expectations. Therefore, delivering
positive change and continuous service improvement is the biggest challenge
public service leaders face today.
The Audit Commission has today launched a guide to managing change for top
managers in public services, which reinforces the importance of putting
users' needs at centre stage.
'Change here!' identifies and addresses the core challenges in delivering
tangible improvements and overcoming barriers to change, drawing on
practical experience in both the public and private sectors. Case studies
from across the spectrum of public services, including social services,
education, the NHS, and the police, show how organisations have improved
their performance in very different circumstances.
Key lessons for public service leadership teams include:
* Research among local staff shows that while nearly three-quarters of
staff understand the need for change, less than one-quarter think it is well
managed in their council
* To be successful, a huge amount of time needs to be spent
communicating and building support for change
* Leaders need persistence, resilience and consistency of purpose to
stick to the key priorities through the typical ups and downs of change
* To improve the things that matter, change programmes must be rooted
in users' experiences and priorities
* Weak project management is often to blame when change programmes
fail
* Leaders can use external input as a key lever and support for
change
* Change programmes should include building the capacity for
continuous improvement as an explicit goal
A new interactive web-based tool is also launched today
here. This provides a quick route into the guide's key ideas, and helps users to find and explore topics and case studies of particular interest.
'Change Here!' is the first in a series of initiatives from the Audit
Commission on the theme of change management. The commission will continue
to develop understanding of what works, and help implement and spread good
practice across the full range of local public services.
Andrew Foster, controller of the Audit Commission, said:
'The new government has put the improvement of public services at the centre
of its second term agenda, and change management is now one of the key
skills needed by public service leaders.'
'Through our work with a wide range of local public service bodies, the
Audit Commission has learnt a great deal about both the opportunities and
the challenges of managing change effectively. 'Change Here!' seeks to distil
that learning, as well as draw on the insights of successful leaders of
change, to help public service managers deliver tangible improvement for
service users, so that public services remain vibrant and relevant, now and
in the future.
'Our research has found many examples of innovative practice across the
range of public services, which others can learn from. We look forward to an
active dialogue with managers of change, and to producing further work on
this essential issue.'
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