The following are transcriptions of the Continuous Improvement videos.
Video 1 - Getting "better every day" at Land Information New Zealand
Peter Mersi: For New Zealanders, this approach to continuous improvement means that they are at the centre of the Government's thinking and that any changes we make will be for their benefit.
Annette McNicholl: What we're doing differently now is that we have the customer at the forefront of everything that we're doing and every conversation that we have is about, "How does this impact the customer? What sort of experience will this provide for the customer?" It's actually giving our staff the empowerment to make those decisions because they're at the forefront of the process so they know what's driving the work through the system.
Steve Mydlowski: Continuous improvement has reduced the end-to-end time for our customer and this enables us to process and issue titles more quickly.
Paul Garlick: The effect on customers would be shorter timeframes that we're processing the work within. Another effect is that we're engaging with our customers more. We're phoning the customers up for a follow-up phone call, sometimes to talk about work issues. And we're often finding they have questions about the work that probably wouldn't have been raised if we weren't phoning them up.
Kevin Marshall: One of the big differences that we've made to them is now we have more contact with them. Again, in that process of checking the cadastral survey data sets – when we do find those errors – those non-compliances, the requisitions, we make phone calls to the surveyor.
Natalie Allam: The decisions that have been made are more in line with actually the work that's been done. The guys that have that experience and the expertise are the ones doing the work. They're the ones talking to the customers. They're the ones getting feedback from the customers so they should be the ones that have the best solution in mind, rather than people that are a little bit more removed from that front line.
Boyd Middleton: We as a team – as the people with the technical expertise – are the ones that are investigating what is causing barriers in our work flow. We're looking at what changes we can make and it's coming from us. It's coming from the people that are doing the work, as opposed to us being told what to do. We're defining how we do things. It's no longer about just processing plans, it's about processing plans obviously, but it's also about looking at the system and what changes we can make to make things better for us every day and to make things better for our customers.
Peter Mersi: The big difference or change for us is that we're very much aware of what we're achieving each day, through the day. The whole idea of us having our rhythm meetings and having the boards that we refer to in the team, is to get better appreciation of how our day is going, what we're achieving, finding out what are the barriers, what are the things that are stopping us achieving what we would like to achieve.
Steve Mydlowski: The biggest difference for me with continuous improvement was the creation of our earthquake pod. This has enabled LINZ to react more quickly to unforeseen circumstances and it has greatly benefitted our customers that are surveying in earthquake-prone areas.
Paul Garlick: We have a need to develop staff at the right pace to cope with work needs in the future. It takes several years to develop a staff member to where they need to be and under our old system it was taking too long and it would be difficult to cope with what we have ahead of us under the old system. We had to make changes and this enables us to develop staff as quickly as we can so that we have the right capability for the work ahead.
Julie Dolan: A by-product of continuous improvement is we're empowering our people. I think the culture is a lot better for that. Those that were involved in it. There's a culture change. Across the organisation people are aware of continuous improvement but there's still a bit of mystery yet as to actually what that involves. For me as a leader of Operations, it's given us the ability to really challenge the system, challenge the way that we think and I like that.
Annette McNicholl: What we've done over time is we've really encouraged our regulators and decision makers to come into the business and see the everyday barriers that we have to supporting our customers. Over time, we have been able to engage with them and we're now at a point where they're really supportive, they understand the frustrations that our customers have and that Operations have. We're able to change the thinking around some of the system conditions that have created those barriers to us delivering for the customer.
Natalie Allam: We take an issue, or the team comes up with the issue actually, in the first place. So they look at what are the 3Cs. What's the concern, the cause and the counter-measure and that's based on what is impacting the performance of the team or impacting the delivery to the customer. They will then take that to a problem solve to say, "This is the issue that we've got. What is it that we can do about it?" and, as a team, they'll work through what the root cause of the problem is to try and then find a solution and test that solution against what the problem was in the first place.
That's different from our original approach where the team management group may have gone away and solved that issue and come back and said, "Right, this is now what you need to do."
Paul Garlick: Now we can be creative and, if we see a problem at work with our process that we don't think is the best, we have the chance to put up our hand and raise an issue about it and actually look at, perhaps, how we can change something to make it work better for us. There's a very collaborative approach. We're very much a part of a team and so you're not doing things on your own. You're not bearing the burden of making good changes on your own but you feel like you've got a lot of support to do that and you've got an environment that really encourages that.
Boyd Middleton: What I would recommend is be accepting of change. It's difficult. Change in life – whether it be personal or work related – is a challenge in itself. Just because you've been doing something for x amount of years, even though in your head it seems like the right way to be doing something, be open to be challenged on that.
Peter Mersi: Having introduced the "better every day" approach, I can see the way in which our customers are being served better and, indeed, the response we're getting from our customers is they feel they're being served better.
Julie Dolan: One of the things that it offers is an opportunity to trial and test something in a safe environment with a safe framework around it. It gives us the ability to keep looking at ourselves, see how agile we are and, actually, that we put the customer at the centre of everything that we do.
Video 2 - A practitioner’s experience of the “better every day” approach to continuous improvement: Interview with Natalie Allam, Continuous Improvement Practitioner, Land Information New Zealand
Natalie Allam: We take an issue. Well, the team comes up with the issue, actually, in the first place. They look at the 3Cs. What's the concern, the cause and the counter-measure. It's based on what's impacting the performance of the team or impacting the delivery to the customer. They will then take that to a problem solve to say, "This is the issue that we've got. What is it that we can do about it?" As a team, they'll work through what the root cause of the problem is to try and then find a solution and test that solution against what the problem was in the first place. That's different from our original approach – where the team management group might have gone away and solved that issue and come back and said, "Right, this is now what you need to do."
I think in terms of the customer, they are more ... the decisions that have been made are more in line with the work that's actually being done. The guys that have the experience and expertise are the ones doing the work. They’re the ones talking to the customers. They’re the ones getting feedback from the customers, so they should be the ones that have the best solution in mind, rather than people that are a little bit more removed from the front line.
Prepare to be challenged. One question will lead to eighty-three questions and so on and so on but, actually, the biggest thing is to make sure that the people doing the work are the ones making the decisions on the work. It's really, really easy to slip back into, "Well, I'm the manager, I should make the decision on this." It is quite difficult to hold yourself back and say, "No, no, these are the people who are doing the work. They need to be able to have control over that."
We've seen engagement as actually people who have made decisions to trial things. They're actually being trialled and now we're saying, "This is something we're going to make normal. Oh, my God, that's something that we've actually suggested.” It hasn't been driven from management down. They're now telling people that didn't really believe it in the beginning. "No, no, we are the ones making the decisions on these things. We are the ones changing the way the business is working." That's really great to see.
It feels like we're actually starting to look at and understand the business, rather than just putting Band-Aids on top of things as they come up. When we went through the model for understand, we really took the time to understand, actually, what's coming in. Now, we're starting to identify things that we're working on that have been problems for years. It's really nice to hear people saying, "Oh, that's been around for ages. You're actually starting to address that." That's great. It feels great.
Video 3 - A leader’s experience of the “better every day” approach to continuous improvement: Interview with Peter Mersi, Chief Executive, Land Information NZ
Peter Mersi: If you're thinking of using the "better every day" approach, I think you're recognising the benefits of having a system-wide approach to continuous improvement; in particular, as a public sector if we're really serious about end-to-end customer experience that will involve cross-agency engagement. To do that, you've got to have a single approach to continuous improvement. Having implemented the "better every day" approach", I can truly say that our staff, the staff that have been involved in that process are just hugely engaged and motivated. They've taken on the responsibility and have been prepared to engage with customers and put customers front and centre, well beyond whatever I've seen before.
For New Zealanders, this approach to continuous improvement means that they are at the centre of the Government's thinking, and that any changes we make will be for their benefit. For leaders, this really is not a tool, it's a culture change. The second thing from a leader's perspective is you need to be prepared to commit resources, energy and your own time, and the third is that you have to be prepared to change.
Video 4 - The PSA’s experience of the “better every day” approach to continuous improvement: Interview with Richard Wagstaff, National Secretary, Public Service Association
Richard Wagstaff: (music) I think the "better every day" approach offers organisations a tremendous opportunity to dramatically improve their performance and to improve the culture of work within which their staff operate. I think it will allow agencies, if they embrace it fully, to really, much more powerfully and coherently address the challenges that they are facing and the challenges that they will keep facing in the years ahead.
What this will mean for services for New Zealanders will be a greater focus on the needs of the end user – on the customer. The methodology of "better every day" is very much focused on what's important to the person receiving the service. And if you like, everything comes from there. It's a complete focus on their needs. Not on the needs of the internal organisation. Not on the needs of anybody else, but trying to get it right for the person who receives the service.
It really is a practical approach to deploying staff and a different way of doing things so that they learn new relationships. They learn new methods. So it's an investment for the future, not just a one-off exercise that drives out the door when the consultant leaves. It's a real investment in staff and I think, for that reason, it distinguishes itself from many other change efforts we see in the Public Service.
We have a by-line which is "for a better working life." We firmly believe that adopting a "better every day" approach and the tools and the culture that go with that approach actually mean a better working experience for our members. Our members want to work in organisations that are humming. They want to be successful in their careers and they know that's much more likely if they're working in an organisation that's successful. So for us, it's quite simple. Organisations that adopt a better way of working, adopt a culture which is much more engaging of their staff, are much better places to work and we know that our members would far prefer to work in that kind of organisation.
We know that these methods are highly successful when there is a determined and ongoing effort by senior management and unions to adopt them. In New Zealand, I think we have the conditions for that to happen.
I think every effort is judged by its return, and the return on this investment will far exceed the effort put in. It's important that agencies talk to their PSA and their staff representatives. If there is a union where they're operating, it's absolutely vital to get everyone on side on with this because it's about changing the way everybody thinks and getting as much momentum as possible. But, I would really encourage agencies to give this a shot. We know from the conversations and dialogue we have with our members, that they are ripe for this.
Staff who work in the Public Service – public servants – really want to make a difference. They would embrace this way, I feel confidently, in doing things differently. They would love to have more opportunity to do better in their work. They just need an operating system, a culture of work, a way of working, a better way of working, to make that happen. I think chief executives should feel confident this methodology will deliver better results and they can feel confident that the PSA will support them in this endeavour.