Local authorities are facing new challenges, shrinking budgets that seem to be predominantly being served by decisions to cut services. This (at its worst) represents unsophisticated thinking, a quick solution.
This reactive and poorly thought out cost cutting of existing services, unfortunately leads only to a direct effect to the front line, exactly where we are seeking not to cut … the idea was to change! To transform the whole way in which we deliver.
We do not seem to have created enough independence of thought on how to change. The pressing cuts agenda has had the effect of allowing local authorities to make a decision not to transform, but merely to use the demand to cut costs to simply just do that. This is not good enough for our future. These short term solutions and will bring huge amounts of trouble at a later date when we will see a resultant increase in need at the other end of the cutting line.
Short term, easy, accessible levels of cutting services will result in trouble. Essentially it is not services that need to be cut! It is actually everything else but.
“Less is more” as a complex transformation of our social care system does work. BUT you must ensure that you have the built the right conditions for it be possible. If you apply the whole transformation process that, yes is more difficult, harder work, and takes longer, it will work – and will work into the future.
We know we have huge inefficiencies in the out-going model of public service delivery.
What can we do to address this awful twist in the public services reforms?
We need sustainable change and new models of delivery, and it seems we are falling at the first hurdle, that of changing minds, of re skilling people and critically creating a fundamental shift in the power of making decisions.
Leadership: Leadership is key to creating genuine bold, brave and resilient folk, willing to challenge the status quo and equipped with the tools for reforming models, people and delivery. Crucial is someone with some say, or someone simply willing to say, to be and to act differently right at the beginning of the process of change. Person centred thinking is not just for customers, it’s for us all. Far too many of us are still locking ourselves in organisational and professional “we know best” behaviours, working out solutions for change, calling them “new” and “innovative” and they are far from it. They continue only to serve the organisation and the people employed in it!
Innovation: Innovation is critical and fundamental to change. It sure isn’t something that is only for the rosy happy days of the past, when money wasn’t such an issue and values and principles could be given a place in the delivery of services. If we can do anything, please let’s recognise the huge value of innovation, it’s top of the leader board here, all research so far, including ours on behalf of Skills for Care, clearly demonstrate its critical to change.
There can be very few organisations that do not currently have a change plan of some sort. Many of them include awareness events and training plans which will undoubtedly result in improvements. However, the New Types of Worker test sites showed differences between those sites which developed new ways of working and learning that would play an active part in transformation, and those sites, which made the status quo better, but not different.
Learning From Innovation, Skills for Care, March 2011
The results of the innovations we reviewed across the 200 New Types of Worker projects clearly supports the case that:
- Taking seriously the importance of working differently and innovating new delivery methods is sustainable and provides better for less when you change actual behaviours. This must be not only in your front line delivery, but in all of us; managers, leaders, professionals, we all have to see that we all have to change.
- Innovating new ways to deliver better for less requires a letting go of our own vested interests in keeping old habits alive, create new spaces, encourage new ways and leave behind processes and systems that were built to service the old ways of delivering,
Cultural change: The biggest challenge is that we all have to think differently, challenge ourselves about how we change, as the dangers we face is we block real innovation by accident.
We know from the most recent research findings that personalising services works best when we change what we do.
Positive approach to risk: The demands for safeguarding make the challenge of investing in radically different ways of working something not for the faint hearted. The current system demands behaviours that demonstrate a keen protective eye on taking risks. We have to change this, we need to manage the message better, share our real understanding that risk in our everyday lives is a personal choice. we are not a nanny state. We have to invest in education, self help systems and prevention and early intervention, these are the real positive approaches to risk. A reactive top down demand for improvement when one thing goes wrong is not a good sound reason for a strong arm governance policy that freezes folk into making poor decisions and unsound judgements.
Cut or change?
We need to stop thinking that’s it’s one or the other, that people have either seen the light or are those on the dark side! This merely represents differing perceptions and demands. Education about good change programmes and processes can replace traditional, professionally driven project management with the best of business practice that irrevocably gets the best results in terms of returns for customers and business success. Investment in people, in working differently to find and discover new ways, requires us to let go of control and to trust. We need skills in managing the grey areas, not the white or the black, let’s find the middle ground,
Start today. Think differently. We have demonstrably better ways of delivering better for less. Using the principles of prevention and enablement as key design principles of all our services can only lead to better for less … more sophisticated and, yes, harder to create and deliver … but worth it. Invest in the spirit of change and re-energise your offer.
I beg, I plea, I’d actually scream if I thought it would help! Stop separating innovation from cuts. Instead think more deeply and more strategically to create efficiencies, both by strategic review of what currently provides low value, as well as considering the efficiencies that we know can be found by transforming our whole approach and delivery method. Bring the two together.
Remember the work is not about your job for life. It’s about someone else getting a life.