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Austerity, convergence and leadership deficit – transformational change trends for 2018

White paper boats pointing downwards with one lone red paper boat moving across

Three trends in 2018 will combine to challenge the most expert and experienced of the UK’s transformational change leaders.

1. Being clinical about the core

We have heard plenty about “doing more with the same” or “doing the same with less”. Given global economic uncertainty, continuing tightening of UK public finances through Brexit or austerity Phase 2 and pressure on large, underperforming British organizations to rediscover their success, we will hear much about “doing less with less”.

John TibbleAnd this means asking the emotionally difficult question of “what are our most critical priorities”, knowing that the answer means refocusing on investing limited funds in critical parts of a business or public service, standing still elsewhere or divesting peripheral services and functions altogether. That might include Mental Health Services, corporate digital security, public libraries, UK defence and security. This will be where CxO-level management teams show their mettle in distilling future organizational value and where effective portfolio management skills will be at a premium to deliver board-level vision through complementary programmes driving measurably-improved core operation.

2. Confederations of expertise

Leading UK academic institutions are great examples of where complementary disciplines are bringing together expertise to provide innovative approaches to major public service issues. Take the Engineering & Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) Centre for Mathematics of Precision Healthcare at Imperial College London, where mathematical, computational and medical capabilities around the theme of multi-scale networks for data-rich precision healthcare are woven together.

There is an emerging capability for very precise monitoring and intervention in individual health alongside wider “big data-based” behavioural and social studies and big shifts required globally in managing population-level healthcare. In this context, the intertwined skills of the project, programme and portfolio management community have never had before them such potentially exciting and socially-transformative opportunities to deliver.

3. Credible Leadership – the most critical component

The state of current UK politics is a matter for personal judgment; but the consequences of the late Noughties’ global financial crises, UK and devolved government administrations’ interaction and the current Brexit negotiations have created a real sense of a general UK leadership deficit. And this is not about directive decision-making (though in crises, it has its place); rather recognizing the power of vision, inspired coalitions of creative problem-solvers and emotional intelligence. Within the change management and P3M communities there are few who can command respect across the multiple strands and disciplines we require to coalesce when tackling these private and public sector challenges; fewer still have the emotional intelligence to recognize that they will only succeed by leading with both rational analysis and a call to the heart.

2018 provides the opportunity for our transformational skills to be put to private and public effect. And emphasizing our individual responsibility for addressing those personal, team and corporate developmental deficits is a great place to start looking ahead to 2018.

More AXELOS Blog Posts from John Tibble

Why people are at the heart of your cyber security

5 Change Mistakes a Good Programme Manager Won’t Make

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