What are the results that matter for the public sector? Is it implementing a new technology system that processes transactions more quickly or perhaps redesigning work processes to improve turnaround times? While those are certainly worthwhile results, I would suggest that they aren’t the type of results that truly matter. What if more governments were focused on bolder results —such as increasing Gross Domestic Product (GDP) or improving per capita income, reducing children in foster care, enticing more university graduates to stay in state or reducing infant mortality so that more families can celebrate their babies’ first birthdays?

Intuitively we understand that these bold results are worthy of doing our best. After all, who doesn’t want results like improved incomes and reduced infant mortality? What’s less obvious, however, is how to achieve bolder results by doing the right things, instead of only focusing on doing things right.

A growing number of public sector leaders recognize that to do the right things and deliver bold results requires plans, budgets and program designs that are linked to performance and results that matter.  While most public sector leaders are used to working with the challenge of doing more while balancing increasing demands with limited budgets, they now also face very different challenges with compliance and control models developed in the past.  For example, digital disruption and an aging workforce require new ways of working, fresh thinking and acting on innovative ideas to meet demands of the 21st century.   Public sector leaders recognize they not only must continue to look to leading practices for proven ideas but must also sort out how to take on changes that are less obvious by using valuable insights now available from the mountains of data at their disposal.

I see five ways government leaders can deliver better results to ultimately unlock higher levels of mission success and find better equilibrium in the challenge to serve 21st century expectations:

  1. Design for Experiences. Understanding the experience of the citizens, constituents and beneficiaries being served is key.
  2. Link Experiences to Services. Design services by focusing on the personas, journeys and use cases of those being served.
  3. Structure the Operating Model to Deliver the Services linked to Experiences. What programs and capabilities do you have, what new ones do you need, and which ones need to be revisited?
  4. Plug the Organization into the Operating Model (not the other way around). It is often said that people are the most important ingredient to delivering great services, and this is also true in the public sector.
  5. Use Technology to Deliver New Experiences, Services and Ways of Working. Digital capabilities are fundamental to the delivery of government results that matter… and public opinion shows that government must be able to meet us where we are.

By designing experiences, services, operations, and technology to drive outcomes that matter—and using data for actionable insights— government can identify innovation and opportunities never seen before. Again, who does not want to be part of lowering infant mortality and ensuring more families celebrate their baby’s first birthday, improving the incomes for all, and transitioning students graduating from local educational institutions into the local workforce?

On a final note, as you think about taking steps to make changes, it is always important to know that change does not have to come in the form of a big-bang project or a rip-and-replace of core capabilities. In fact, improving outcomes can be done by rethinking how work is done, making processes more human-centered, or simply finding new ways to use existing information to better engage your state workforce.

In upcoming posts, I’ll dig a bit deeper into each of the five ways and explain how they can put you on the path to deliver results and outcomes that matter. In the meantime, learn more here and follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter.

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Rob Cohan

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, Public Service

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