public service

Frontiers of Service in a Networked World

Future Gov are working with colleagues Stephen Goldsmith and Zach Tumin at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government to research the “now wave” and the “next wave” of public service delivery around the world. And they would like your help.

"Today more than ever the prospect (and need) for network-enabled collaborations between governments, citizens, industry and non-governmental organizations is high. No one can go it alone; the costs of services are ever increasing, the influence of governments to control the entire agenda limited, and the need for quality and greater value critical.

Technology and networks open the door to new collaborations, and improved performance, whether for the production of health, safety, or employment, for example, or for transactional services, everything from certifications and licenses to tax.

In the coming weeks, leaders of these efforts from five nations – Australia, the UK, the United States, New Zealand and Canada - will be gathering at Harvard for a roundtable discussion to share current best practices and understand the prospects for the next wave of service reform. What has proven useful? Where is the best next investment? What are the critical enablers for success?

Where is the “now wave,” and where is the “next wave” ? We would like your nominations for best practice now and over the coming years. We will be gathering these and sharing at the roundtable."

"Our focus is on service delivery (not e-democracy per se) and in particular:

  • Personalisation of public services
  • Co-production and re-design of public services
  • Reducing the cost of government, in particular through joining up public service delivery within and across organisations including the shared service agenda particularly around transactional services
  • New ways of governing in terms of formal governance arrangements but also re-balancing of power between the citizen and the state
  • New ways of performance managing / measuring impact and outcomes
  • New tools and technologies

And we would love to enlist your help in answering those questions! What better way to show the power of many minds to the future of government than through a crowdsourced report writing collaboration?"

They have put together a short survey to capture your thoughts and ideas on the big trends of the moment, who and what projects are really setting the world alight in their respective field of front or back office functions from healthcare to environment and even government finance? And then where next…

FutureGov are interested in your examples of real world practice – service innovations; tools proven or in trials or use; examples of new approaches to performance measure and management of cross-organization/shared mission efforts.

Tell them:

  • What’s the initiative?
  • Where is it? Who’s doing it?
  • What tools are enabling change?
  • How do / will performance measures and metrics work in this context?
  • What’s the governance arrangement like?
  • What evidence is there of value – financial, or improved satisfaction, reduced waste or loss, improved outcomes…

If you take part and your suggestions are included, you will be given full attribution in the final report. ( studio - unbounders, graduates and students - this is a big chance to get your name in print and get your voice heard! )

Go for it! Definitely one for MyPolice and PatientOpinion !

Tip Good Service Day

Joel Bailey, Director of Service Design at The Team asked a question that really got me thinking: why is it only restaurants that acquire regular tips? Sometimes, we also tip bell boys,bar workers, taxi drivers and hairdressers. However,  our daily lives are made up of services - surely they are all worthy of recognition? Postmen, shop workers, security guards, cleaners, nurses, librarians and the lolly pop man.


"People that provide me with a memorably good service experience should be recognised regardless of their industry."

Joel proposed the creation of a "Tip Good Service Day" Would this give rightful recognition to the fact that so many of us work in service businesses? Would it give those who strive to give good service an opportunity for recognition and reward? Would it give people who receive good service a chance to say thank you?

This immediately reminds me of Public Service Thank you: a thank you space created by the team at ThinkPublic. I have also recently become an author on the Thanks Stranger blog, which is a really simple and personal way just to say thanks to a stranger.

Let's do it. What could this look like?Who would you say thank you to and why? Who was the last person you tipped?

Photo from BC on Flickr

Treat me right

Giving people with learning difficulties a say in their hospital treatment is helping transform services. "When her 62-year-old brother went into Ealing hospital in west London at the end of last month for a routine operation, Amanda Burroughs was worried that staff would not take account of his learning disabilities.

She was both relieved and delighted to find that he was one of the first patients to take part in a scheme called Treat Me Right!, which aims to improve the way hospitals treat people with learning disabilities.

Burroughs's brother, who also has dementia, was asked to help draw up a document called About Me, which detailed his likes, dislikes, needs and wants.She also contributed to the document, which was hung at the bottom of his bed and made staff aware of issues such as the need to talk to him in straightforward language and to give him plenty of time to make decisions. She was so impressed with the scheme that she wrote a letter to hospital bosses and to Ealing MP Stephen Pound, stressing "its importance and the need to publicise it more widely".

Ealing-based Support for Living, a not-for-profit organisation that provides housing and social care for people with learning disabilities, proposed the project just over a year ago to help rectify the inadequacies in hospital care revealed by Mencap's Death by Indifference report, published in March 2007. The extent of those inadequacies was highlighted again last month when an investigation by the health and local government ombudsmen upheld complaints of maladministration against seven NHS trusts and two local authorities involved in six unrelated deaths between 2003 and 2005.

Nigel Turner, Support for Living's chief executive, says of the scheme, which is being funded for 15 months by Ealing primary care trust: "It isn't a kneejerk reaction to the ombudsmen's report. Hospital staff are used to bringing in a specialised piece of equipment to treat a disease. We want them to get used to bringing in a specialised approach to treating people with learning disabilities."

Elsa Grigg, project manager at Treat Me Right!, says the first step was to ask people with learning difficulties and their carers what they wanted to change. "The main thing that came up was communication, which can include really simple things such as extending an appointment to give someone more time to understand what's going on," she says.

New hospital information packs are being produced that will include photographs or symbols allowing a patient to point to a picture showing how much pain they are in or what foods they prefer. Some staff at Ealing Hospital NHS trust have already begun learning Makaton, a signed language for people with learning disabilities. From June, staff will receive more general training in dealing with people with learning disabilities.

The scheme is aimed at adult in-patients, but it may be extended to include outpatients, children and adults who have difficulty communicating because they have dementia or have had a stroke"


This article was written in response to Support for living's new intiative: Treat Me Right!

"Comes in response to local concerns and national campaigns regarding the treatment of people with special needs when they enter the hospital system. Often communication difficulties, poor staff training and lack of accessible information lead to tragic results in hospital."

A selfless service?

I met Faizal Farook, the author of this article last week. "What motivates people to work in the public sector? It’s not the pay or short hours compared to other areas of employment. The authors probe the motives of the one in five people in the UK who have chosen to devote their careers to public service. They provide insights into the ethos that promotes and underpins the tradition of service on which the general public rely."


Photo: woody1778a