On linking pay and performance (part 2)

In part one I explored the views of human nature that often underly moves to link pay and performance, even now. I suggested that individual performance is the product of the system within which people work, and that to hold individuals to account for their performance in these complex systems of work is misguided at […]

On linking pay and performance (part 1)

“If you want people motivated to do a good job, give them a good job to do” F. Herzberg⁠1 In previous articles I have explored approaches to managing performance in complex environments and offered some insights and ways forward*. These are alternatives to the industrial management complex which assumes that all staff are inherently lazy, […]

On communities after Covid-19

Grafton, a small New England settlement in Vermont state, had long been home to those seeking a quiet, unintruded life characterised by low levels of government regulation and civic participation. It seemed like the perfect place to develop a community based on logic and free market principles, and that is exactly what a group of […]

On developing my change framework

Over the last 12 months I’ve been exploring what we are learning about crises and change as the pandemic continues. Here’s an abbreviated run through. Early in Lockdown 1 I was trying to figure out what would have helped me, back in my local government days, track what was happening in response to Covid. And […]

On improving health outcomes

The RSA’s Inclusive Growth Commission, reporting in 2018, recognised the role that poor health can play in contributing to the key challenges of unequal economic growth and poor productivity. Data analysis and visual mapping conducted by the Commission highlighted the association between poor health, economic inactivity and exclusion from labour markets; illness amongst the working […]

On creating the conditions for innovation

It’s a recurring theme, that of thinking about the journey to radical innovation in the public sector. It’s one thing to say that innovation occurs within your organisation yet the real challenge is in how to shift systems in more effective directions. System-changing innovations provide significant boosts to public value and, as David Albury recognises, […]

On scrapping job descriptions

I sometimes wonder whether anyone actually looks at their job descriptions once they are appointed. If you do, then why do you? Perhaps it is to ensure that you are not getting out of your lane and tripping over someone else’s work, or inadvertantly taking on responsibilities which should attract more remuneration. Perhaps you simply […]

On finding the unknown

Why is entrepreneurialism in the public sector important and why do we need new ways of spending public money that deliver greater public value? Let me frame this challenge with a Quote from Plato, in which Meno asked: “how will you go about finding that thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you?”. In […]

On (dis)investing in prevention

The recent review into Sure Start children’s centres offers a window into a complex system: early years services. They were designed to bring a range of such service sunder one roof and improve access, often in the more disadvantages communities in the UK. Indeed, in my local government role I sat on a board for a […]

On accelerating social innovation

In order to transform public services and improve population health outcomes, we need to accelerate the social innovation process in communities – co-creating solutions from the ‘bottom up’ to tackle complex societal challenges. There are wider economic and societal benefits to be realised from embracing the efforts of community organisers and social entrepreneurs. The challenge […]

On moving fast and fixing things

Commissioning and innovation are two terms that belong together, yet all too often they remain separated, unless it is to describe the inability of the former to achieve the latter. In this piece I’ll explore why they are normally used as either/or terms and share some learning from places that are actively trying to put […]

On commissioning in complexity

“Probation is a complex social service, and it has proved well-nigh impossible to reduce it to a set of contractual requirements.” Such was the conclusion of HM Chief Inspector of Probation when the government announced this week that they were re-nationalising the delivery of some probation services. If outsourcing led to improved outcomes at lower […]