Voices from Accenture Public Service

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Decisions are hard, especially in today’s environment. Change is very rapid, and the pace at which public service organisations need to adapt to change is getting faster and faster. To respond to new challenges, senior civil servants are expected to be confident and prepared to make the tough, but necessary decisions. It is the difference between good and great and what makes an organisation relevant to the needs of society. So where do you start? 

Must-have skills 

For public service organisations to transition to a future predictive and citizen-centric model, leaders require a strong self-awareness in how they go through the decision-making process (DMP). I first analysed this idea when I was writing my thesis. I studied and compared how three public agencies in Europe made decisions about outsourcing their services – what steps they took, what factors were considered and what role their culture played. What I found was that the DMP is a complex, multi-level process that varies greatly. But there was one consistency. The DMP involves three pivotal interactions:

  1. Self represents the psychological state, political views and general character of the decision-maker.
  2. Institution represents the connections between a multitude of stakeholders and the conventions that exist in any given environment.
  3. Market represents how the economic law of supply and demand drives the contractual part of the process.

When it comes to navigating the DMP, senior civil servants need to strike the right balance between what’s natural or traditional and what’s required to move the organisation forward for the good of society. 

DMP Balancing Factors

DMP Balancing factors

Using DMP to resolve revenue challenges

Putting theory aside, let’s look at the DMP in the context of tax agencies. The digital economy has brought forth new challenges. For example, not everyone complies with regulations and requirements, and not everyone declares their income. What’s more, existing policies are not yet clear on how to deal with these problems.

Tax officials will need to build new critical capabilities around analytics, innovation, new IT and customer management. They shouldn’t rely on a supplier to develop or deliver their services. These activities are part of their core business and moving forward means becoming innovation-enabled, insight-oriented and digitally-driven.

With money on the line, senior leaders also need to look past internal and external politics and be firm in in their decisions. Imitation is not effective. Copying the policies and processes of other organisations won’t let you adapt to your unique situation. Each and every organisation has its own maturity and culture and requires its own analysis.

The right first step

It’s time senior leaders turn their focus on creating the right processes that will gather the right insight. They will also need to build internal trust so that decisions can be reached faster. And most importantly, deadlines need to be put in place. Procrastination will only make the decisions even harder in the future.

But that doesn’t mean the DMP has to be faced alone. With the right support and guidance from those who know about public sector transformation, you can confidently navigate the complex processes that will lead you to becoming an innovative, citizen-centric agency.

Ready to make a decision? Please reach out to me on LinkedIn or send me an email if you’d like to discuss the DMP in more detail.

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