Sep 102010

Aberdeen Voice’s Old Susannah opens her heart and her dictionary to define more familiar but tricky terms.

Continuous Improvement.

Look around you:  look at your streets, your social services, your schools, your leisure facilities, hospitals and your libraries (if any).  Continuous Improvement is all around us.

The state of our services is not an accident, you know.  The Continuous Improvements we can see are the work of a Continuous Improvement Committee, which makes Continuous Improvement Reports, and publishes Continuous Improvement Audits.

The April 2009 CI Audit (available from Aberdeen City Council’s website at a mere 50 pages) gives a useful overview of the many areas in which our local administration continues to improve services for us in a simple, easy-to-understand, economical fashion.  Old Susannah is particularly impressed by the Corporate Communications section, which claims that £14K was saved by creating a summer brochure (although the cost of not creating a summer brochure was not immediately evident).  This particular document also delves into types of telephone communication areas, including ‘Homecheck’ and ‘Telephone calls for Trees’. ‘Telephone Calls for Trees’,  one imagines, must be something to do with trunk calls.  But personally, I am stumped.  The ‘Trees’ section promises careful monitoring, ‘allied integration’ , training materials and implementation plans.  Time and money would be saved by getting rid of trees (cutting out the dead wood, as it were), and getting in a few more parking spaces and shopping malls.  Happily, this is being considered.  Or so I heard on the grapevine.

Surely making staff double-up by being responsible for Transformation as well as Change represents good value for money

Taxpayers will be further reassured to know that the Community Plan and the Vibrant Dynamic & Forward Looking statement* are monitored through something called a performance reporting framework. How very far we have come from the days when a phone call was placed, a request or complaint made, and was acted upon.

How greatly improved are things from the time when, for instance, a school board had a budget, decided what it needed for its improvements, and just got on with it.

The above clearly explain Continuous Improvement, but doubtless the Continuous Improvement Committee will be only too happy to clarify any unfamiliar phrases which might appear in its reports.

Change Manager.

A letter was published some months back in something called the ‘Press & Journal’, asking what exactly a Change Manager was needed for in Aberdeen.  Old Susannah will be happy to try and answer that question, as no one from the Council seems to have had the chance as yet.

The cynical among us might suggest mankind has been coping with change since it first found fire.  But, in these modern times, a Change Manager is needed to steer a course through the dangerous waters of change and to reinvent management posts with new trendy names and create management jobs where there was no previous need (after all, job creation is always good).  Continuous Improvement means Change of course, and these two important areas of management go hand in hand. Thankfully, Aberdeen City’s Change personnel are well versed in managing change, some of them having suddenly changed from one highly paid government post to another (one such person reportedly left a Shire post abruptly with a five-figure payout and would end up in the City’s Change section.  Now that’s what I call good change management).

Areas of job classification falling under Change include ‘Transformation AND Change’ and Modernisation AND Innovation’  Surely making staff double-up by being responsible for Transformation as well as Change represents good value for money.

In the sad days to come, no doubt our Change Manager will help all of us cope with the departure of Sue Bruce from our City,  a change which we must try to manage…or does Ms Bruce’s departure fall under the heading of Continuous Improvement ?

*to be defined in a future Dictionary Corner.