How will you get there if you don't know where you are?

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Simon Fletcher, Partner Business Change, discusses why our readiness to embrace change is at the heart of successful service transformation.

Change is inevitable.  Nothing ever stands still.  But it’s our preparedness to put inertia aside and our ability to accept and embrace change that will determine whether we thrive or fall with every new dawn. There is, of course, no panacea as every one of us has different influences and factors affecting our approach and receptiveness to change. When such variables are put into the workplace, the situation inevitably becomes all the more complicated.  And that’s before one considers the benefits and challenges of new technologies and the need for new working practices to evolve and adapt in tandem with the principles of continuous improvement.

This poses quite a dilemma for any organisation contemplating service transformation.  After all, engagement, confidence and assurance are all qualities that must apply to customers as well as the teams and individuals responsible for delivering the service. The true complexity of the task is all too often glossed over in the blind pursuit of technology-inspired efficiency gains.  Such a short-sighted approach will always fall well short of service expectations and, invariably, it will result in costly remedial action further down the line if the required operational and service delivery outcomes are to be achieved.

Only by really understanding how existing systems and processes work in practice and the interactions between individuals and across each area of an organisation is it possible to establish how best to move forward with any service transformation programme.  In simple terms, if you don’t know the starting point, how do you know what route to take or how much ‘fuel’ is needed to get to your target destination?

It’s for this reason, we apply Systems Thinking in Practice (STiP) when helping clients to modernise and transform their operations and IT resources in order to deliver more resilient, stable, accessible and secure services for customers.  This holistic approach gives us a ‘rich’ picture of realities and opportunities by providing a true understanding of the existing issues as well as the viability and impact of prospective solutions. 

Significantly, it highlights relationships, connections, influences, cause and effect to help ensure the right actions are taken to address the real problems and to develop the most effective solution.  Most important of all, it allows emotional factors and dependencies to be considered alongside assessment of structure, processes and systems.  This provides deep insight for more informed decision-making so that an organisation can move forward with confidence and resolve in delivering effective transformational outcomes.

STiP methodologies help to prioritise proposals for change by estimating and contrasting their ‘realisable benefit’ with their ‘difficulty of doing.’ This exposes connectivity, pinpoints optimal resolution and helps to alleviate the risk of unintended consequences from any course of action.  In doing so, it facilitates a meaningful and practical ‘agenda for change’ that truly reflects the complexities of legacy and the dynamic nature of the working environment and customer expectations.

The practical application of STiP is underpinning the initial phase of a comprehensive move to help the States of Guernsey optimise service efficiencies and improve the customer experience for all islanders.  The States’ digital services partnership with Agilisys is an ambitious and visionary programme to revitalise the way government, businesses and islanders interact with - and capitalise on - new digital technologies.  It will help to reform public services to deliver the best possible outcomes for islanders while also acting as a catalyst for progressive development of the local economy.

Here, the use of STiP is providing clarity for even the most complex legacy issues and is providing tangible evidence to help demonstrate to islanders how a digitally enabled government will function as well as the practical benefits of improved connectivity and service accessibility. Put simply, it is helping to identify real-life issues and the real barriers to change while also helping to define the optimal solution and the most effective route map for fulfilling the States’ transformation goals.


As a former civil servant, Simon has first-hand experience of leading complex programmes to reform public services that deliver positive outcomes for local communities. You can contact Simon via LinkedIn

Simon Fletcher