PART 3 – What can we do? A good transformation vision

What does real transformation look like? Digital, shiny and beautiful.

Of course, the big T is not, and should not be, a one-off traumatic event, never to be repeated. Like a revolution, it may have a beginning, but it will not have an end.

I often hear that people want a bit of help with the ‘art of the possible’. Having thought about it, I think it's a bit of a cop out. From a strategy, technology, or vision perspective, what is currently possible is not a limiting factor. Everything is, in some way, impossible until someone does it, especially in business or organisational services. In most cases, this is a way of saying: ‘I have no idea what I want, so let’s see some examples of stuff that some people did before - then I can pick my organisation's future from a catalogue’. This is not okay if you are that organisation's leader. If you think about your future vision, then assume, at least in government space, that technology can do whatever you can imagine.

As Simon Sinek has beautifully put it, ‘Start with Why’, knowing the desired outcome and the original vision is critical. The more detailed, the better. How will you know that this outcome has been reached? Can you test it? Could someone else test it?

One point of note: if it is simple and easy to measure, is it ambitious enough? Transformation is not about saving X% of cost. That is an improvement, not a transformation (if that's the only goal). At extreme cases, where X is higher than, say, 30%, then it may be called a transformation as very large savings imply a complete change of process. This could also just be semantics.

If at all possible, a journey between measurable outcomes should be established, articulated, and agreed. This will make communication and support easier. It can also give some certainty to people affected by it. Even if this means some of them have to depart during the journey, understanding their part will help mitigate the ‘turkeys voting for Christmas’ problem, where you need the support and hard work of the people most affected by the changes.

To do the measured and planned journey, one will need a baseline. Measure today what you can: the cost of services, cost of service per resident, per officer, per unit. Measure the time it takes to do something. Measure volumes of services, of demands. Understand seasonality. Know the main contract renewal periods. This, of course, best built on a process of meaningful, regular KPI collection and reporting. I have rarely seen this done well, but perhaps it will be possible going forward. The list of what to measure above is certainly not exhaustive, but as a minimum it should cover aspects of the organisation that will lead to the achievement of outcomes. 

The above should not take long, and must not be a way of delaying the process. 

A target operating model should be created or reaffirmed, at a detailed enough level that people can see their place in it. Keep remembering that transformation must be driven by business change, not technology. I want to say this again: digital transformation has nothing to do with technology. Nothing. Well, almost nothing. It would not be possible without some modern technology to enable it (it would otherwise just be transformation). But, transformation is certainly not driven by tech, not defined by it, and nor should it be limited by it. 

See the rest of this weeks' #CounciloftheFuture campaign week blogs here

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