Roundtable Summary: ‘Setting up Transformational Program Offices in Government’

Roundtable Summary: ‘Setting up Transformational Program Offices in Government’

Insights | 23 August 2016

On Tuesday 19th of July, PM-Partners group hosted an exclusive, Chatham House Rule roundtable event with a number of public sector Programme Leaders to discuss insights, challenges and success stories relating to the complexities of setting up and sustaining a transformational program within government.

This interactive platform enabled a confidential and open discussion whereby experienced transformation leads were able to divulge their experiences on a number of topics, highlighting key themes and evident parallels across the room.

Throughout this open forum, we were reminded of the gap between project and non-project specialists, particularly with an ever-pervasive level of ambiguity that typically surrounds project sponsors and executives, when defining their role in the context of transformation. We discussed harnessing strategic alignment as a means of steering and prioritising, as well as successful ways to deliver information and present ‘upwards’ to C-level to keep communication succinct and relevant; including the concept of rallying endorsement rather than simply raising problems without any solutions-based contingency.

In terms of gathering and enabling momentum and buy-in, we discussed the value in (and questioned just how many environments were) truly advocating benefits realisation by introducing it into the workstream as a mandatory discipline.

It was imperative to dissect the differentiators between public and corporate, that being that government is largely affiliated with constant and inevitable change as well as public scrutiny. On the flipside, we explored the beneficial implications of corporate being rewarded for high-risk, while being largely driven by shareholders as opposed to taxpayers, and how such factors unfold into both environments ultimately striving for value and investment.

In terms of accelerating business outcomes and harnessing risk, much was shared on the topic of agile. The consensus was that integrating agile into traditional and blended environments requires a change management approach and strong leadership to champion it. That said, the adoption of agile thinking can certainly be set in various ways, and not necessarily accompanied by an array of jargon that may overwhelm and drive further resistance. Discussions also spanned the common misconceptions surrounding agile that elude to an apparent absence of governance and complexity, collectively inferring the contrary.

A key pain was the issue of ‘business as usual’ being swamped with transformation activity due to capability gaps and shortages across the board. Attendees were forthcoming in sharing their success stories having engaged in strategic sourcing, and we covered the growing push towards agencies investing more if it means finding the right people.

Finally, none of the above can truly be fostered and sustained without the appropriate mindsets driving capability and strategy. We explored the theory of beliefs largely driving behaviour, and since beliefs can change, then so can behaviour. For some, taking the approach of rewarding progress rather than process, and strategically aligning everyone with the same language first and foremost, was proving to help shape cultural shifts for better business outcomes.

With all the above in mind, we keep coming back to the question of whether or not transformation activity, in its evolution, ultimately benefits the citizen in a way that is measurable and aligns with the overall organisational strategy. Just how often are we checking in with this? And with all the complexity, process, and disruption that comes with change, is this not the very question that should be driving transformation activity in the first place?

The feedback we received after the roundtable only reinforced the importance of holding such events. We were reminded again, the value of momentarily gathering industry peers away from their workplaces in hope to harness community and share insights and perspectives that can otherwise be translated into daily practice. That said, the conversation doesn’t stop there – we are in the midst of planning future events and encourage those who wish to attend to register their interest here.

If you would like to put forward future topic ideas, or wish to speak to one of our transformation consultants on any of the above, phone us today on 1300 70 13 14.

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