It’s time for public service agility
Becoming an “agile“ organisation is a term heard frequently within management circles today. And while forward thinkers know it’s the only way to navigate the accelerating pace of change in the public sector, the implications are not as easy to appreciate. Becoming agile enables new ways of working within the digital economy across the core functions of government: policy, regulatory and service delivery.
The future requires a dynamic, adaptive and responsive organisation that is equipped to address the convergence of demographic, socioeconomic and political change, which is compounded by private sector innovation. Agile organisations are able to pivot to a citizen-centric culture that responds to citizen needs the moment they arise. They are also able to deliver dynamic regulatory and compliance frameworks.
Meeting the new imperative
Business and technology innovations have disrupted work, businesses, industries and our entire society. Public service organisations are not immune to the state of constant change in today’s world. In fact, government is becoming a platform for orchestrating public-private connections and delivering next-generation public services.
Change is the only certainty and agility is the first line of defence. However, only 14 per cent of public service organisations surveyed have more than 60 per cent of their funding model focused on agile practices.3 An agile organisation that continually evolves to support innovative service delivery is essential for success. Agility at all levels reduces complexity and increases responsiveness, allowing government to meet the needs of citizens and businesses that they serve.
The anatomy of agility
Public service organisations can infuse agility across the entire organisation:
By shaping the organisation with a fast and stable approach in mind, it will be poised for dynamic, adaptive services that meet citizen demands and stakeholder needs, speed up decision-making processes and allow innovation to thrive.
The core systems within many public service organisations lack the business agility needed to respond quickly to changes, such as new government policies, and respond quickly to citizens’ everchanging needs. New technologies and platforms will allow government agencies to make data-driven decisions, improve operations, drive innovation, and enable personalised and customised interactions.
Public service organisations that have adaptive workforce models offer new opportunities. For instance, self-organising teams centre on customer outcomes—not functions. Siloed, hierarchical structures dissolve. Teams are flexible enough to quickly disassemble and reassemble to take on the next task. And rather than focusing on rewarding tenure and volume of output, agile organisations reward innovation and quality of outcomes.
And he or she can render an entire department irrelevant simply by choosing not to comply. Providing flexible and adaptable experiences to citizens will deliver tangible benefits to government such as increased trust and transparency, greater compliance, less fraud, improved data quality/accuracy and cost reduction.
It is time to be fearless rather than hesitant because the potential benefits of agility for government are exponential. There is no single path to follow to become an agile public service organisation. But there are many ways to get started. Take the leap and unleash your agency’s innovation transformation.
1 Accenture Public Service Agile Research, 2018