Improving services whilst cutting the budget. It’s seems counterintuitive. It’s the equivalent of improving the team by selling your best players. Generally speaking people including managers see a direct relationship between spending and success. In contrast the government, or their inspectors and auditors, have continued to maintain there is no direct correlation between what a local authority spends and its performance or the quality of its services. As evidence they site the better performance of a LA with a smaller budget than yours.
We are encouraged to study these examples that appear to disprove the relationship between spending and success. Is it a unique set of circumstances or are there things we can copy and so repeat their success?
To continue the footballing analogy can you sell your top goal scorer, buy a defender, pocket the difference and still improve the team’s performance? In most cases no. But every so often yes. To put it in a local authority context, first the board has to have supreme confidence in the chief executive’s judgment because the strategy will be criticised by the opposition , the media and the public, as ,” risky”. Secondly this cannot be a, “we have no choice” move taken as a last resort to balance the budget because a sizeable proportion of the saving needs to be reinvested. Thirdly those involved will need to be able to see the big picture because the strategy involves collaboration and individuals having a shared understanding of their role and contribution. Finally to be successful the leader and chief executive must get the chemistry right. These characteristics don’t often come together at the same time and place. Or as they say in football money doesn’t guarantee success but the lack of it guarantees a battle for survival.
Blair Mcpherson former director, author and blogger www.blairmcpherson.co.uk