How the Public Sector Can Remain Agile Beyond Times of Crisis

How the Public Sector Can Remain Agile Beyond Times of Crisis

Although based on US research, an interesting new report from McKinsey adds value to the on-going debate regarding public sector digital transformation in the UK, especially organisational barriers to change.

Based on case examples dating back to the 1980s, the main theme of the report is that public sector organisations are perfectly capable of being nimble and agile in times of crisis, but not beyond. In almost all of the cases examined, agility soared immediately after a crisis but tended to dissipate over time.

The authors identify three main ‘internal forces of resistance’ inhibiting public sector organisations from being agile without a crisis, from maintaining that agility after the crisis ends:

  • A cultural aversion to risk
  • Functional silos
  • Organisational complexity

Based on lessons learned from studying agility in the private sector, a number of recommendations are made on how public sector institutions can be agile beyond times of crisis.

Agile organisations, according to the research, excel in four core areas:

  • Strategy providing employees with a shared vision, purpose and direction combined with clarity on how to achieve the mission.
  • Appropriate organisational structures defining the distribution of people and resources. Agile organisations set a stable, simple structure as their backbone. This comprises the top team providing mission leadership, core functions deciding how to allocate budgets and modular teams with enough autonomy to make decisions.
  • Processes determining how things get done. The appropriate combination of standardised processes combined with continuous improvement and fluid configurations in an agile way.
  • People practices determining who does what and the need for building a strong common culture and purpose.

A useful framework is provide for taking the first step on the agile journey, assessing how agile your organisation currently is.

Agile journey framework

You can access the full report here – How the Public Sector Can Remain Agile Beyond Times of Crisis