Headlines: December 13th, 2012

A new survey finds council chief executives are failing to keep up with the increasing rate of change that they face, putting them at risk of losing funding and negatively impacting service delivery to their citizens.

These findings come from a report commissioned by Fujitsu, ‘Fit to Change’, which is based on interviews with 62 council chief executives, corporate directors and heads of service. The report revealed that 77 per cent agree that “the current rate of change is too rapid for their organisations to keep pace with.” It went on to show that the factors most responsible for this increasing rate of change are changing work patterns with 90 per cent; working more collaboratively with suppliers and partners, 86 per cent; responding to central government policy 83 per cent and budget constraints, 81 per cent.

When asked how “fit to change” local government respondents considered their own organisations to be on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being in really good shape, the most frequent rating, 39 per cent was 7 while only 18 per cent rated themselves at 8 or above.

Commenting on the findings, Professor John Kotter, Harvard Business School, said: “By self-report which always tends to over-state positive factors and under-state negative factors only 18 per cent of local government authorities are at all optimistic that they are ‘fit to change’. In a world that is changing more and more rapidly, these are highly distressing numbers.”

The study also analysed the gap between the attributes councils felt were needed to be able to respond to change effectively and how close their own organisations were to possessing those attributes. By far the greatest gap was in “the right technology solutions”, followed by strong leadership, a culture that supports change, possessing the right capacity to change and a robust ecosystem of suppliers and partners.