Sooner or later, Peter Drucker once wrote, all good ideas degenerate into the need for hard work.
He was right.
And he was especially right (not that he knew it) when it comes to leading digital transformation in government and the public sector.
Big ideas, high ambition, untold complexity. But, in the end, there’s work to be done and leaders who need to hold it all together.
And let’s remember that, in the end, the work is not the technology, although doing the technology exceptionally well is the non-trivial foundation for success. The ‘north star’ of this work comprises the expectations, needs and circumstances of customers and citizens. Working with those at the sharp end of delivery, they help design and shape the programs and services that navigate a rapidly changing world of opportunities and risks.
This is especially true amid intense, volatile and ongoing pandemic-driven uncertainties, flooding across the country and heightened geopolitical uncertainty in 2022. It’s been a testing and often exhausting experience for workforces in every sector, and certainly in government and the public service.
We’ve described this elsewhere as a 5D model of digital leadership: an ability to link policy and service design; understanding digital service delivery platforms and tools; leading new ways of working; harnessing new approaches to trust, safety and security; and using new techniques to build public profile through storytelling and engagement.
This leadership model will be tested as Australia moves beyond ‘reset and recovery’ to shape personalised, robust and resilient government services that meet rising expectations in the new economy and across society for trust, inclusion and sustainability.
We’ve brought together five useful pieces of advice – or UPAs – that speak to the leadership demands at the nexus of policy reform and service delivery transformation.
These are all born of the hard work and shared experience of public servants and citizens and speak to things we know matter to leaders and the ambitions driving them.