RESEARCH REPORT

In brief

In brief

  • When public service organizations become agile, it enables new ways of working across policy, regulatory and service delivery.
  • Agility protects government from disruption, but few organizations are investing in agile practices.
  • When asked why their organization has not used agile methods, 43 percent of public service respondents said they were reluctant to change.


It’s time for public service agility

Becoming an “agile“ organization 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 organization that is equipped to address the convergence of demographic, socioeconomic and political change, which is compounded by private sector innovation. Agile organizations 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.

Meet the agile organization

Public service organizations that infuse agility across structure, technology and people will be positioned to respond to the constant change around us.

Key questions to become an agile public service organization

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Meeting the new imperative

Business and technology innovations have disrupted work, businesses, industries and our entire society. Public service organizations 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 defense. However, only 14 percent of public service organizations surveyed have more than 60 percent of their funding model focused on agile practices. An agile organization 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 organizations can infuse agility across the entire organization:

The backbone: Structure.

Agile organizations take a holistic approach to managing the entire body of the government agency—the people, processes and technology.

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By shaping the organization 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 muscle: Technology.

Among public service organizations using agile methods for IT, 82 percent saw greater flexibility, while 81 percent saw improved quality.

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The core systems within many public service organizations 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 personalized and customized interactions.

The intellect: People.

Agile organizations invest in new talent with new skills—27 percent are hiring new talent with agile skills such as analytics and data science.

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Public service organizations that have adaptive workforce models offer new opportunities. For instance, self-organizing teams center 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 organizations reward innovation and quality of outcomes.

The heart: Citizens.

There is only one boss in the agile public service organization—the citizen.

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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.

The City of Philadelphia used design thinking techniques to instill a customer service-driven culture within compliance-driven agencies.

Accelerating agility

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 organization. But there are many ways to get started. Take the leap and unleash your agency’s innovation transformation.

David Davis​

Consulting Lead – Pennsylvania, Talent & Organization Lead – Public Sector, North America

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