26 February 2009

What this blog is about

I am researching a compendium of innovative practice in the public services and I wonder if I might involve you in this.

In particular I am searching for examples of where a small but creative idea helped a service deliver more with less. Often these are the innovations that go unreported or only exchanged at conference coffee times, for example. I wish to create (and steadily grow) this searchable resource that will help spread these innovative practices widely. Indeed, hopefully, this blog compendium will inspire others to come up with even more and support the creative spirit in the public services - a spirit we need more than ever in these times.

Do you have such a story? In particular, I am looking for ‘bite sized’ ideas that

  • Have helped your organisation deliver more to your local communities, or work even more efficiently, or just saved some money or staff/officer time.
  • Could be applied elsewhere reasonably easily
  • Are probably not widely known outside of your own organisation

A few small examples I have come across are:

  • Police service fleet management operations constantly look for ways to improve their efficiency and effectiveness. Two improvements stand out. In one instance, one fleet manager discovered that many different units were hiring cars for their use and in many cases not very efficiently, as the hire cars were often sitting idle in police station car parks . As a consequence, they centralised the booking of hire cars and saved a large amount of money. In another instance, a different fleet manager empowered his organisation to search for ways to improve the resale value of police cars once they were decommissioned. They managed to invent a new kind of adhesive which meant the ‘Battenberg’ fluorescent strips could be removed with very little damage to the paintwork.
  • One council regularly hosted social events in a large hall and one occasion some helium filled balloons escaped and drifted up to the high ceiling. Faced with the need to get the balloons down, the facilities manager was on the point of hiring some expensive scaffolding to grab the balloons. However one of the council’s cleaners had the ingenious idea to put some masking tape on another balloon – with a sticky edge facing outwards – and floated this balloon to the others on a long piece of string. One by one they were brought down at no cost.
  • In one council, they were seeking to improve the efficiency of their street lighting service. On analysis of the procedures involved, they established that if a member of the public phoned in to say that the street light outside their house was not working, the first step was to send an engineer out (at dusk?) to check that indeed the light was not working. On establishing that it was, a second engineer was despatched to fix it. They compared their own assumption (members of the public might lie) and the data (on almost no occasion did the first engineer find a working street light) and challenged the process. Now if someone rings in to report a defective street lamp, an engineer is sent to repair it, without the checking stage. Time and money have been saved and the public get a speedier response.

In both cases, the ratio of results achieved to effort expended is very high. I am looking for more examples like this. If you can spare a few minutes sending me such a story, and/or circulating this blog to colleagues inside or outside your organisation in order to snowball more ideas, I would be most grateful. I also think that colleagues around the country would find the resulting resource helpful too.

Below are some guideline questions – but please do not feel constrained by these – but this will help organise the information later. I have also added a couple of optional questions on learning and leadership – as they are my interests too. Please add that detail if you have the time. Also please be brief as this will help the keep the compendium usable.

1.       Summary title (of this ‘small & creative idea with big results’)?

2.       What was the idea and

3.       What were the results?

4.       How did your (or your colleagues’) leadership help this innovation come about?

5.       What was learnt?

6.       Contact details for further information or keep it anonymous if you wish

Thank you for at least reading to here! In anticipation, thank you for all your help with this research. I hope this blog will grow and grow!



Helping you connect the prose and the passion to deliver superlative results

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