Book News: April 22nd, 2010

The Total Place initiative has the potential to transform the shape of local public service delivery. It looks at how a ‘whole area’ approach to public services can lead to better services at less cost. This paper summarises interviews with four HR and OD leaders from local authorities involved in the initiative.

Total place is about transformation and in the longer term we need to be prepared to think in terms of a single public service workforce which is operating across organisations, the boundaries between which have become invisible.

Pressure on public spending is forcing different agencies to innovate and this pressure is useful leverage in taking total place forward.

The pilots have shown that to progress there will need to be a mindset shift. It involves thinking about an area as opposed to organizations arranged in silos. It poses the question of how the different management teams and boards can be engaged in a constructive way of thinking in a coherent manner across the piece. It is a dilemma for many staff, whether they are policy practitioners, performance practitioners or, in some cases, in leadership roles.

To be successful, organisations involved in total place need to enable that mindset shift at all levels of the organisation and be innovative and flexible in matching it with processes and structures that liberate rather than constrain new ways of working. But the structural barriers in the way, such as culture, terms and conditions, policies and protocols, are enormous.

The report is available from IDeA.