Performance and Productivity

Patrick Dunleavy was a guest of ANZSOG at the University of Canberra this week.
He gave a talk titled  The Second Wave of Digital Era Governance.
An abstract of his talk:

Some of the most difficult issues in public management revolve around making strategic choices for the future in an era of rapid social, cultural and technological change. In previous work we drew a contrast between new public management (NPM) approaches, which predominated in the period 1980-2002, and digital era governance (DEG) which grew fast in the 2000s. Since that time the rapid development of societal and technological uses of online processes has been matched by the seismic impact of the 2008 credit crunch and financial crisis, now mapping out as austerity regimes in many OECD countries. In this paper we review the current fortunes of NPM, which has not revived despite the pressure on public spending. By contrast, the first wave of digital-era governance changes have flourished  and the importance of key DEG themes has increased – specifically reintegrating government services,  pushing  towards holistic delivery to clients and responding to the  digitalization wave in public services. We also argue for the emergence of an influential ‘second wave’ of digital-era changes inside government, responding to the advent of the social web, cloud computing, apps development and many other recent phenomena moving advanced industrial societies further towards an  online civilization.

I enjoyed Patrick’s presentation very much and liked the way he dealt with questions at the end of his talk. My ears pricked up particularly when he mentioned an interesting and powerful trinity: agility, disintermediation and productivity. I think these are key characteristics of the second wave Patrick and his colleagues are investigating. I noticed that Patrick and Leandro Carrera are co-authoring Growing the Productivity of Public Services (forthcoming from Edward Elgar, 2012).

Just as I was mulling over the ideas shared by Patrick I received an alert to a post by Wayne Goldsmith on Getting it right from the start: Building a Winning Sporting Team from the ground up. I thought Wayne’s Step 7 and Patrick’s trinity would make a great foundation for any group planning to improve.

Patrick and Wayne have encouraged me to think about how you would front end the advocacy, training and transformation required to make the second wave a ripple rather than a perfect storm. A starting point for me will be a 2004 CISCO paper Using Sport Analogy in High-Tech Management to Improve Productivity by Improving Personal and Team Performance
written by K. Houshmand, S . Goli, R. Esmaili, and C . H .Pham.
Photo Credit
Surf Boat, Bude


  1. Thanks for the post Keith.
    I think Step 7 is indeed a great foundation, and also that any Performance based organisation would agree whole-heartedly. Many organisations who do not actually function like this either think they do or would like to.
    My question is, do you think organisations who know they need to change, should start by attempting to work within the structures that created the underperforming organisation in the first place, or by changing that structure?

    • What a good question, Alexis.
      I imagine it is linked to the mandate for change and the time scale available. I am not sure an organisation can do this from within without remarkable support.
      I do think some change agents come with experience of making change happen elsewhere.
      It seems to me that change happens WITH people rather than ON people. I tend to think five years is a good starting point for thinking about changing with people in an organisation. The higher up you are in the power hierarchy the easier it is to do this.
      Thanks for visiting the post and for posing such a great question.
      Best wishes


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