Being ready for change is critical

An article by Lawrence Conway, Chief Executive of South Lakeland District Council

If the COVID-19 emergency has taught us anything it is the need to provide agile and flexible organisations – ready to respond to a rapidly changing agenda. Many of us have been preparing our staff to be the 21st century public servants in a 21st century council addressing 21st century opportunity and challenge, driving economic innovation, building wealth across our communities, encouraging active and healthier citizens, tackling the climate emergency, building a greener economy and embracing all things digital – by design not deception.

Being ready for change is critical if we are to maintain a focus on what our communities need from us. At South Lakeland DC we knew we were on the right path and during lockdown it proved an invaluable investment. We had already implemented, with our transformation partner Ignite, the capability that allowed us to work from home and to rapidly shift resources to where they were needed, while engaging our digital investments to be smarter, more effective and efficient. As well as the empowerment that pervades our communities and our staff, it also saved significant amounts of money.

We implemented a structure that replaced the traditional silos with a flatter model oriented around customers. It has broader, more flexible job roles organised in bigger teams, with fewer people.

We shifted a lot of work closer to the customer, empowering their service teams, creating case management capability and liberating specialists to focus on strategic priorities.

In the process of reassessing who did what, we redesigned our processes and automated them, with customer intelligence at the heart.

Looking into the future, we now have local government reorganisation on the near horizon. We will be well placed to provide a flexible way of working whatever the outcome of this latest round of deliberations. We can scale up quickly and respond to the need to balance centralised services delivered at scale with localised services delivered according to community needs.

Only through our delivery of this transformation into new ways of working, thinking and attitudes can we appreciate the changes this approach has and will make to our future community ambitions.

Article published by on 24 November 2020