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Local authorities are leading change

five children dressed in non-specific superhero-esque costumes

Putting people at the heart of transformation

Written by Jess Coomer, Business Operations for Local and Regional Government at Microsoft.

Research shows around 70% of change programmes fail. The road to transformation clearly looms large for many organisations. But what’s the reason behind this trend?

This question is posed during the Microsoft and Socitm Change Agent course. Participants are asked – how can we ensure that change fails?

How can we fail?

This prompts some bemused faces, but reveals some striking examples that highlight the commonality of errors in plain sight. From a lack of urgency to poor communication, everyone has something to offer. And they’re not alone in their contributions – John Kotter (1995) famously wrote about common errors and offered eight success factors.

Based on these lessons, we discuss how change efforts should be supported. Leadership programme manager at Socitm, Aidan Matthews, shares insights from credited researchers like Honey and Mumford, widely known for their Learning Styles Questionnaire which helps people identify their preferred learning style.

Understanding how people with neurodiversity absorb information means we can create inclusive communications which diverse teams can digest and thus, the first hurdle is overcome.

During the pandemic, we witnessed two years of digital transformation in two months, but less visible was the meaningful adoption of technologies. Despite the rate at which organisations must adapt, few companies manage the process as intended.

Microsoft and Socitm curated the programme as they recognised their combined value could offer thought leadership around change dynamics. Our blended approach means the basis of most implementations are covered, as Socitm delves into the human side of change while Microsoft focuses on the role of technology in transforming services.

Without question, technology has a crucial role to play. But we’re regularly told that the value of this programme comes from the collaboration and connection formed between local authorities.

The organisations that join us are at different stages of their journeys. Some councils use the programme to launch internal plans while others are more advanced, and keen to share their learning and best practices.

The five-day virtual course is aimed at individuals that want to consider new ways of working, are interested in overcoming obstacles and have a growth mindset. Anyone can become an agent of change and realistically, for organisations to remain innovative, one person in every public sector service should be advocating and driving momentum for change. A good change agent will empathise with their team, acknowledge resistance and gain perspectives different from their own; action without reflection is limited.

Likewise, managers should recognise their role to foster a supportive environment, facilitate employee engagement and align individual and organisational values. During the latest two-day course, managers shared they were only leveraging between 10-50% of their technology to its full potential, that means 50-90% is underutilised. One participant encapsulated this with a metaphor, ‘we’re using a very small tip of a very large iceberg’ and we applaud this admission, as it demonstrates an important awareness; a consensus that more can be achieved.

When people attend our course, we hope they will go back to their organisations with ideas to streamline and automate processes and improve exisitng systems, with the knowledge to drive the culture change.

Change Agents are invited to join a community of practice, created to ensure that we’re continuing the discussion because, as we know, the public sector is most powerful when we’re committed to learning and sharing from each other.

We have scheduled cohorts in November and December 2022, with plans to deliver more courses throughout 2023.

If you or your team would like to register for the upcoming courses, please find more information here.