The delivery method developed by Sir Michael Barber, chief adviser to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, has often been criticized for being too heavy on “command and control.” However, with the Liberal government’s recent adoption of deliverology, the approach appears to have taken on a Canadian flavor.
That appears to be the consensus among many of the attendees of the CGE Leadership Summit on Deliverology in Practice held in Ottawa on Wednesday. The sold out event featured some of the country’s top management experts as well as executives from various government and non-government organizations who are either using deliverology or have seen deliverology in action.
“Right from the start Prime Minster Trudeau focused on delivery,” said Tony Dean, professor of the School of Public Policy and Governance at the University of Toronto, and former Ontario civil servant who was former Secretary of the Cabinet, Head of the Ontario Public Service, and the Clerk of the Executive Council from 2002 to 2008.
Dean, who was opening keynote speaker in the event, briefly traced the development of deliverology in the Blair administration. He said the method was successful in achieving the government’s goals but over time received pushback from department heads and managers who chafed at the heavy top-down approach.
Adjustments were made and soon common deliverology success factors across jurisdictions showed there was a “lean towards accountability and away from command and control,” he said.
Tony Dean makes a point during his presentation at the CGE Leadership Summit 2016
Dean said the Liberal’s approach towards deliverology appears to be “focused on collaboration and capacity building.” He said there is clear indication that extra effort is being made to engage department heads, managers and even frontline workers in the process, get their inputs and involve them more in the decision making.
Lou Di Gironimo, general manager of Toronto Water for the City of Toronto, said these were critical factors in the success of deliverology.
For about a decade now, Di Geronimo has been using a management method with strong similarities to deliverology. This has been very instrumental in Toronto Water being able to improve the delivery of vital services to its customers of 3.4 million residents and businesses.
Very often he said, delivery approaches focus on “managing toward results” rather than intent. This leads to managers being fixated in meeting targets that have nothing to do with the organization’s real goals.
“Managers and supervisors need to know that deliverology doesn’t mean they could lose their jobs,” he said. “They need to be able to operate in a safe environment so that they are not afraid to offer new ideas.”
Craig Szelestowski, government transformation specialist, and president of Lean Agility, agrees. During his presentation, Szelestowski hammered on the importance of having a clear direction and focus in order for deliverology to succeed.
Szelestowski identified several key deliverology hurdles:
- Low buy-in
- Too many priorities
- Blame and shame attitude
- Focusing on reaching the target not the intent
Other speakers during the event were:
- Ross Pattee, executive director of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, who spoke on how deliverology help the board cut down a huge backlog of cases.
- Tom Rosser, senior deputy minister for strategic policy at Fisheries and Oceans Canada, who explained how deliverology helped his organization focus their organization goals.
- Ian Williams, unit manager for business intelligence and analytics, with the Toronto Police.
- Robert Shepherd, associate professor of the School of Public Administration and Policy at Carlton University.
- Greg Richards, program director and executive-in-resident at the Telfer School of Management at the University of Ottawa.
- Kathy L. Brock, professor of policy studies at Queen’s University.
- Murray Krnick, national service lead for performance management, Intris/BDO.
- Robert Lahey, founding head of Canada’s Centre for Excellence for Evaluation, and principal of REL Solutions Inc.