Six steps to data-driven digital service excellence: connecting with housing customers using quality data

18th October 2019

Public to private, and still supporting my community

Kate Lindley, the previous Head of Transformation at Warrington Borough Council, has recently moved to Civica and discusses how the move to Civica continues to improve the lives in her constituency and beyond.

Over the past 15 years, I’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing people in the public sector - people who are truly committed to the communities and customers that they serve. The same people who work hard to make a positive difference to people's lives. This passion to make a difference is why I worked in the public sector for so long. It motivates me to get up and come to work in the morning, and has connected me to some of the most inspiring, hardworking, talented and entrepreneurial people in my career. 

Every job I’ve ever had has been centered around delivering change of one sort or another. Nothing’s changed there. In fact, my ability to deliver and influence change may well have grown as I have a far wider vantage point, given Civica works with most councils in the UK and hundreds of other organisations too. The advantage of this being that I can help share what works (and what doesn’t) more widely than before - helping councils ‘join the dots’ from the outside in.

At Civica, we have a great track-record of innovating solutions to support communities, and it always starts by listening to our collagues and partners. Our latest programme looks at the growing demand for social care and how together we can build an integrated care model that delivers better outcomes for all members of our society. Our journey towards a better social care system starts with you, and we would love to hear your thoughts. To say thank you, for every survey we'll provide £5 to Action for Children.

In my new role, I’m most excited about helping councils create the space for better conversations – bringing wider knowledge and innovations to the table that might be useful to them, making these accessible and focused around the benefits they can deliver to both councils and the people they serve – and encouraging them to continue to challenge themselves, each other – and us, their partners. 

Can we keep up with technology? 

The pace of technologically enabled change is forever-increasing, so the eco-system we all operate in needs to be mutually supportive. Clearly it’s going to be important that exploration and sharing is easy for councils to tap into and enables them to take action. Nevertheless, change takes action and taking pragmatic action is something councils are already very good at.

Particularly in the last decade as the screws of austerity have tightened for most councils, necessity has proved to be the mother of invention. Be that in finding new ways to do things, seeking out opportunities to generate revenue, or taking sometimes difficult decisions in the interest of the greater good. While no council is perfect (no organisation ever is), the scale of change has been phenomenal and today’s public sector leaders - particularly those involved in change - are often heroically juggling the need to be fluent not only in detailed aspects of service delivery, but also in data, finance, technology, organisational design and more. This is seen not just in one service area or sector, but across the hundreds of different services that the council is likely to provide. It’s a huge undertaking and one where exposure to different perspectives and cross-sector experience can add real value.

For me the move from public to private isn’t a big leap – we’re all ultimately trying to find out and navigate new ways of doing things at a time of rapid change. The advantage of working outside, but alongside councils, is that generally the private sector has greater resilience to invest in developing and trying new things without as much fear of failure - and investing in this exploration means that when councils are ready they can exploit something that’s already ‘known’ and very often will have been tried elsewhere. While everyone talks about the need for more of a #failfast mentality in the public sector (and I agree it would accelerate the pace of change overall), the reality is that budgetary and political pressures often make this more challenging for councils than compared to other sectors. 

It's clear that improvements in public services have been increasingly dependent on software and digital technology. I’m fortunate to have landed somewhere that is just as value-led as anywhere I’ve worked before and that genuinely wants to ‘get it right’ supporting councils. So, it turns out that the leap from public to private isn’t actually that much of a leap after all!

My own values remain solidly focused on making a positive difference. At heart, I’m still that council estate raised kid who got a leg up and now wants to help others. I now have a bigger toolkit, something that as a loyal public servant (still!), I’m keen for councils to leverage.

I look forward to showing you my new tools at our upcoming webinars. See you there...

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