As consultants working with the public sector, seldom have we seen a concept take up so much space as “Deliverology”.
Everyone seems to be talking about it. But is it truly something new, or just a repackaging of things people are already doing? And more importantly, can it really make a difference?
The real strength of Deliverology, from our perspective, is that it addresses those aspects of the public sector context that often make change so difficult in government. Based on our research on change management in the public sector, we had identified five factors that contribute to resistance to change in the public sector (the steep hill that change management efforts must climb).
Following is how we see deliverology addressing each of these factors:
- Politics. One of the issues identified in our research was the lack of predictability of political support and sponsorship for change; Deliverology provides this in abundance.
- Public scrutiny. Because political leaders take public responsibility for the change they are implementing, and because Deliverology promotes transparency in communications, public servants’ fears about public leaks and backlash related to their decisions should be reduced, and subsequently their resistance to change.
- Diverse motivations. Our research showed a high risk for public servant motivations to be out of alignment, or perceived to be out of alignment, with those of their political masters. Because of its focus on clarity regarding priorities and goals, Deliverology could reduce the natural suspicion and resistance of public servants to political initiatives.
- HR and financial constraints. One of the core strengths of Deliverology is that it structures change efforts in a way that bypasses many of the traditional bureaucratic barriers to securing the resources needed to get things done.
- Frequent leadership changes. Deliverology’s focus on persistence and sticking to the goals means that even as senior executives move between jobs and positions, the change effort will continue to receive the necessary attention and high-level sponsorship.
So, is Deliverology something new? Perhaps this question is of less importance.
The real question is – Can Deliverology lead to fundamental change?
Based on what we know about change in the public sector, we think Deliverology is well positioned to achieve meaningful results on the government’s main priorities. What remains to be seen is whether its effectiveness will be limited to those initiatives that are on the government’s priority list, or if the practices encouraged by Deliverology carry over into the rest of the public sector and become part of how public servants manage day- to-day.