Public Sector Organisational Excellence and Leadership

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Faculty Experience

Public Sector Leadership

Faculty members of the CBS have been senior executives in major public sector organisations. In addition, they have delivered action learning programmes for the Ghana Ministry of Finance, the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority , the Barbados Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Abu Dhabi Police Force, the Brunei Civil Service, the UK Benefits Agency (3 programmes), the Indonesia Ministry of Communications and Singapore Ministry of Communications

The faculty have also designed action learning programmes for the Uganda Ministries of Public Service, Tourism, Works and Transport, Energy, Health and Water, the Zambia Ministries of Energy, Local Government and the Revenue Authority, the Ghana Ministries of Transport, Highways, Water, Local Government, Health, Tourism and Industry, the Nigerian Ministry of Trade, the Gujarat Ministry of Energy and Kerala's Ministry of Tourism

Other non-action learning specific activities of the CBS in the public sector have included;

  • A Review of the whole civil service of Malawi on behalf of their Government over an 18-month period.
  • Workshops on PPP for the Asian Development Bank, two Indian Ministries, one on civil service reform for the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) and one for the Commonwealth Secretariat.
  • How to deliver modern human resource management for the UK local government sector.
  • Creation of the International Journal of Public Sector Management by Dr Kinder, Chairman, CBS, who served as its editor for 3 years. This Journal became one of the leading vehicles for public sector ideas.

The Problem – Inadequate public sector performance

Our 30 year experience suggests that in the developing world too few public sector organisations can claim to have improved customer (the people) satisfaction; to have achieved high levels of labour capital and material productivity and to have introduced a performance culture where motivated officers working in high performing teams produce work of high quality and take responsibility for the cost, quality and delivery of their output.

Civil service reform has had limited success in many countries. National plans have not been implemented and the expectations of the people have not been satisfied. Pressures on limited resources are increasing and little learning from mistakes is taking place.

Our front line experience suggests that the culture of many civil services is conservative and change resistant where innovation and questioning current practice are not encouraged enough. Officers are often not committed to improving their working practices because there is little incentive to do so. Maintaining the status quo and not 'rocking the boat' are often the 'orders of the day'. There is a widespread preference for playing administrative roles rather than leadership ones, of maintaining the inadequate status quo rather than improving it. In this culture, getting managers to admit to mistakes is difficult let alone getting them to be prepared to learn from their mistakes and take remedial action which we argue is the key to achieving service excellence.

Officers are often not committed to continuous improvement of working practices and integrating this with continuous learning. Organisations are change resistant where assertive but consultative leadership is in short supply.

This situation has been called the learning dilemma. Few managers are willing to take time out to reflect and learn from their successes and failures and then to define more effective processes and individual behaviour. Senior managers are often the worst offenders. This is a major obstacle to development.



An Answer – The Action Learning Envelope Around Strategic and Operational Plans

The challenge is to close the gap between the planning process and service delivery (the strategy gap) at all levels and, in particular, to improve the working relationship between politicians and their public servants. This is best done through practical, on-the-job, action learning, leadership development programmes.

Most countries in the developing world have comprehensive national development plans. These plans define WHAT needs doing. HOW these targets are to be achieved is often not defined precisely partly because this is a much more difficult area to address given the limited success achieved in implementing change, the lack of leadership in creating a performance culture and the fact that immediate problems can overwhelm and demotivate officers. This creates a STRATEGY GAP between what is required and what is achieved. Closing this strategic gap is one of the major challenges of the whole development process. Our task is to address the issue of why there is a lack of IMPLEMENTATION CAPABILITY, ie the ability to close the strategy gap.

We aim to close the gap between the planning process and service delivery and to improve the relationship between politicians and civil servants through on-the-job, action learning, leadership development programmes.

This involves initiatives to improve political commitment to change, the organisational capability of ministries and municipalities and the skill level of politicians, managers and administrators. The problem in the past has been the ineffectiveness of many capacity building initiatives in closing the strategy gap and creating the necessary implementation capability to improve service delivery through improved ministerial and project effectiveness and the competence of individual managers.

That is, the traditional approach to capacity building has disconnected learning from the reality of the workplace, from the day-to-day activities of managing organisations. This approach needs replacing by programmes which feature 'learning and doing' simultaneously. That is, on-the-job, action learning programmes.

This assertive approach builds on our experience of delivering the 66 action learning programmes featuring the latest development in technical and managerial knowledge and practice in the public sectors worldwide. We offer the following;

  • Programmes for Ministers in sector clusters such as infrastructure, welfare, wealth creation etc. These programmes include Chief Directors of cluster ministries and will feature improving the political administration interface.
  • A programme for the Heads of Civil Services and their management teams of Chief Directors featuring implementation of the National Development Plans and the performance improvement of the civil service.
  • Programmes for Chief Directors and their management teams to implement their ministry strategy and deliver their priority projects.
  • Programmes in the delivery of priority projects in the infrastructure sector with special reference to the WATER, PORTS, POWER, and HEALTH sectors.
  • Short, knowledge transfer workshops on project finance, PPP-based finance, regulation of utilities, privatisation of utilities etc.

Our aim is to create a culture of operational and individual excellence where leadership of high performing teams, at all levels, is encouraged, where learning from experience and continuous improvement becomes an integral part of day-to-day management and where individuals take personal responsibility for improving their own performance and that of their departments and their projects

If required by the clients these programmes can lead to post-experience diplomas and masters degrees.