Identifying an ‘additive culture’
It’s always useful when a new broom is able to sweep clean. Government chief executives in Jersey have repeatedly been brought in from outside the island and handed a broad change mandate, but haven't always delivered.
Currently that island is operating with an interim chief executive, who comes from a corporate banking background. He told a scrutiny hearing that he had come into an organisation ‘which, in its culture, is additive’.
That revelation won’t shock many. But it’s revealing to hear it said. In the private sector, Dr Andrew McLaughlin said, three-quarters of resources were committed to business as usual and a quarter available for change. In the public sector, that was more like 90% on 'BAU', given the overriding need to continue to run hospitals and police the streets and so on. And Jersey’s public sector workforce has grown 20% in the past five years. So how difficult is it to stop the bandwagon?
‘I’ve come into an organisation which keeps adding things, and maybe doesn’t take enough account of the decisions it has already made, and the cumulative impact of those decisions,’ he said.
‘Sometimes the adding is maybe done without thinking all the way through [and asking] whether we really have the resources for what we’d like to do.’
He has said he wants to tackle this ‘additive culture’ – but when there’s never a shortage of demand for new services, from both public and politicians, that’s much easier said than done.