There is a very real issue we face and that is whether we can maintain the way that we work by continuing to be organised as we are. Many organisations, especially public sector ones are at a tipping point where the addition of greater and greater amounts of funding will not solve the underlying problems of demand and supply. The NHS is a case in point. Of course we have the other problem in that funding continues to be taken away. Something has to give and our options for the future cannot be built upon the success of history.
Our customers are changing. According to the Institute of Customer Service in its research ‘The Customer of the Future, ‘The future promises vast, exciting opportunities for new products and ways of delivering service. But in a climate of expanding choice, customers will also want integrated services and simple, straightforward experiences. Above all perhaps, emotional, personality and values-driven factors will become more influential in shaping customers’ preferences and behaviour.
Organisations will need to excel both in delivering fast, efficient, convenient experiences but also in creating trusted relationships with an emotional connection, empathy and advice.
We need to develop a new approach to work. One in which everyone gets to use the skills and talents that they have grown and nurtured. All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players. All of us will play different parts to contribute to the outcomes that we are aiming for.
We need to work in a different way, where what you do is more important than where you do it or how you do it. We need to be outcome driven rather than obsessed with presentism. We need to be trusted and to do that we need to be trustworthy.
Two years ago I set myself the objective of getting to meet every senior manager within the council. We have over 100. I got around to most of them. At the end of chat, I asked them ‘why do you get up in the morning’. Each one answered with the same three things. Variety of what they do, getting to work with people and wanting to make a difference.
Our work needs to be varied, involve the people and make a difference. That is why we came into public service.
Inspire is the programme that is going to deliver this change. It is not just about buildings, or desks, or the kit that you use. It is all of these things but much more. It is about how we work, how we collaborate, how we co-create and how we develop each other to deliver the products and services that our customers need. It is about the people. You, me, all of us.
So what is stopping us now? Whose unseen hand is it that rests on our shoulder and holds us back? I think it was in the Facebook offices that a sign was hung which asked ‘what would you do if you weren’t afraid?’ Underneath someone had written ‘I would write on this wall’.
Or as Anne Frank wrote ‘How wonderful it is that no one need wait a minute before starting to improve the world.’
Our businesses require creative change and this can only come about by people trying out new things and working in new ways. Some of these are bound to fail yet without them the work we are doing will stagnate and will not meet the needs of those who rely upon us.
The future is going to be very different and we need to work differently to meet it. I’m excited by the prospect of what we are setting out to achieve and I hope you are too.
We can make a start right now.