1 May 2012

Change management


Mr Mustard agrees that change is sometimes necessary to reflect changing circumstances but change always costs money. It also seems to him, even having only studied Barnet Council for 15 months, that there is far too much change in the management structure and that a long period of stability is needed once the best possible management team is in place (which is a long way off happening).

Last week another change was presented to the General Functions Committee. This is what Nick Walkley had to say about it in his message of 16 April 2012.

Message from the Chief Executive

Over the next 12 months, Barnet Council will be transformed in several different ways.

Last week Cabinet approved proposals to merge this council’s Legal Services with those of neighbouring Harrow. This development has two aims. Firstly, to save money - we expect to save £4.4million across the two councils over the next five years - but secondly to improve the service the department provides. A bigger service with a broader skills base supporting two councils will reduce the need for each council to seek outside legal advice. It will also give staff the opportunity to broaden and develop their skills.

At the same time, as you can see below, the search for private sector partners for the NSCSO and DRS projects is on target and these services will transfer to a private sector provider a year from now.

Staff in scope have already attended meetings with the shortlisted bidders.

The LATC (local authority trading company) is in place ensuring that adult social services has a structure that lets residents play a greater part in deciding how they receive their service as part of the Right to Control agenda. The housing service transfer earlier this month was the next phase of the LATC project, creating a single easy point of contact for residents for all housing issues in the borough.

The outsourcing of parking will take effect next month. And is turning into a right disaster with a data protection breach which has been reported to the Information Commissioner and with transferring staff being given At risk of redundancy letters on the day they report for duty with NSL. Great, thanks.

In each of these cases, the council has looked for the appropriate structure to provide an improved service at a lower cost to the taxpayer. No they haven't as in-house bids were simply not allowed. All that expertise will fly out of the window.

Given these changes, the council is now launching a review of the senior management team, to make sure that the skills, structure and culture of our managers properly meets the future needs of service users. Fat chance. A council replete with interim managers, consultants and town hall tax dodgers is never going to gel as a team.

Most of you have now sat through one of the presentations about the financial drivers of the One Barnet programme. By being both prudent and prepared, this council has been well placed for the financial challenge facing the whole of the public sector. Does he really believe all this waffle?

As it happens the salary bill has been in the news thanks to the Taxpayers Alliance and their invaluable guide to Town Hall Pay of 2012. Naturally Barnet Council rubbished the findings but still admitted they had 25 people on £100,000 and above (thank you to the Barnet Times). They should only have 10 at the most and Mr Mustard would prefer to only see 2.

What Barnet Council won't be able to dispute are their own reports (or will they?). Here is the latest reorganisation report.

Management Restructure
Here are the main points from the 28 pages.

The current senior management team costs us £9,535,000 a year. This is a ridiculous amount of money to spend on senior management of a business that really doesn't change much from one year to the next. Management is bloated and ineffectual.

There are 95 managers at the level of Director, Assistant Director and Head of Service. There are simply too many chiefs.

Everyone currently understands the structure of the council. It is divided into directorates that each control a clearly defined aspect of what the council does. The new chart on page 18 should be headed up as "No, that's not my responsibility".  Mr Mustard defies you to decide who is responsible for delivering any service of any kind to anybody. There is no responsibility without accountability. If central procurement goes wrong, as it does all the time, we at least know that ultimately Craig Cooper is to blame even if he tries to shift it to someone else all the time. In the proposed new structure he will be able to blame shift to his heart's content (although Mr Mustard harbours the hope that he simply won't find a home in this new structure).

Harvard Business School put it better in this review (Change for change's sake)

In theory, the solution is to organize as a matrix in order to force interaction across dimensions. But matrix organizations are notoriously difficult to manage because they blur accountability and slow down decision making.
Who you complain to in the new cross service structure is a complete mystery. The answer; complain to nick walkley every time - he has created this mess - make him live with it. If you have a problem email Nick Walkley

Page 23 must be the section where the "leader" Cllr Cornelius got his red pen out and starting getting the tiniest bit cross and amended "work with members" (members is a funny word with a double meaning and often the second meaning is more accurate than the intended one) to "work for members". Keep at it Cllr Cornelius and show us some real leadership. In every meeting hold those officers to account, question stuff and reject it if it is management buzz word bingo (or just plain bollocks like this entire report).
Does change cost money? Oh yes.

In 2009/10 payoffs to senior management amounted to £not disclosed
In 2010/11 payoffs to senior management amounted to £1,017,212
In 2011/12 payoffs to senior management are £we will find out in June 12

Has the management team been restructured much?

Yes in August 2009 to "provide stability" - that didn't work then?
Management Restructure 25 Oct 2010

Again in October 2010 "aligned to and delivers future needs of the council". Evidently "the future" in council terms is not the same as any other sensible corporation would think of as the future - a period of 5 to 10 years. In Barnet Council the future is simply until Nick has another expensive tinker with the team. Why put your back into anything and tackle the really hard tasks if after 12-18 months you can leave with a handsome payoff and blame restructuring rather than incompetence.

When will the next restructure be. Within 12 months is sadly Mr Mustard's guess. Get your wallet ready.

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard


1 comment:

  1. Oh dear, Mr Mustard: are you saying that in the new structure our privileged senior management team will have even less, er what is the term ... 'ownership' of their responsibilities? Is that possible?

    What happened to performance related pay?

    Hope that doesn't apply to the senior officers I'm thinking about right now: can you see? Because they will be earning way below the minimum wage, if so.


I now moderate comments in the light of the Delfi case. Due to the current high incidence of spam I have had to turn word verification on.