By Denis Kaminskiy, CEO at Arcus Global
When you have the vision and plan in place for digital transformation, it is time to consider who inside the local authority can do this. There are already a lot of blogs about leadership, and they all share one message: without strong leadership, transformation programmes are not possible.
“Take me to you leader”
There has to be a leader – the ultimate authority, a champion, a decision-maker and a critical and passionate advocate. While there can be many people doing these roles, in the end, one of them must be all of these things, and relentlessly drive the change forward to see it succeed.
These are some of the most relevant characteristics, but bear in mind that not all of them are required to have an excellent candidate. If they were, it would take forever to find them.
Ideally, this is someone who has developed, or was involved in developing a vision
Someone who understands the organisation, its personalities and characters
Someone who can anticipate challenges that will come from the ‘softer’ side of the organisation and gets its mood
At the same time, this is someone who is happy to challenge and is happy to be in conflict, if necessary, while having a desire to see the conflict deliver the right results (it’s not about winning)
The leader is well respected and trusted, but not feared
They are senior – this is sadly true. Rank and status in public sector are considered to be hugely important
They have to be comfortable with technology, but only to the point of being able to tackle challenges from their own team or suppliers. Perhaps the only thing they need to be able to do is learn and have the initiative to do so
Being a good people manager helps, because no one can do it alone
Having a good, strong and supportive boss is useful. This is technically someone else’s attribute, but if the leader is not supported, they risk failing, or leaving altogether
They are incentivised and well paid. This is obvious, but it’s a hard job, and should be well rewarded. If it isn’t, then the great leader will leave
The A Team
As critical as the leader is, they cannot deliver anything without the team. And, they cannot buy or outsource this team, or stuff it full of interims and consultants. This is not just due to the cost. Ultimately, someone has to be invested in the success of the vision, and carry it on.
There are lots and lots of detailed conversations to be had within the business. Colleagues need to be managed and persuaded to support the process. Business process change is tough (no one likes change after all), and it has to come from inside the business itself, or it is pointless. The team is therefore a group of people with different skills, but one vision, which is able to drive the wider organisation to change itself. They are the ambassadors and representatives of change. They have to display and share the culture of the future way of working.
In terms of size and roles, it is hard to be specific without knowing the target organisation, but as a minimum, a good team will have:
A leader (see above)
A great programme manager
A good architect (just because they talk about The Open Group Architecture Framework or microservices, doesn’t meant they know everything)
A technologist – someone who knows about code and is interested in the latest tech (but is not necessarily a programmer – you might better off with a design person)
A PR/Relationships/Commercial/Procurement specialist. This is an all-rounder, an enthusiastic, smart, fast, and hardworking person. This can be several people
Getting the team right is as important as the vision. One last piece of advice – run far from people who talk ‘agile’, ‘platform’, ‘digital’, ‘cloud’, ‘big data’, ‘AI’, ‘Machine Learning, block chain, RPA, and so on. All of these terms mean something, work, and can help. But anyone who says these in the scope of one conversation or slide deck is probably not worth your time.
About Arcus Global
Arcus Global, formed in 2009 and based in Cambridge UK, is a market leading GovTech cloud company, delivering mission critical technology solutions that enable local authorities and other public sector organisations to transform their service delivery to citizens.
The Software as a Service division of Arcus has developed a platform based suite of Applications for Local Government. Addressing the challenge of legacy technology in Citizen Digital interaction, Planning, Building Control, Licensing, Environmental Health. Arcus has grown to over 30 customers including Folkestone & Hythe District Council, Eastleigh Borough Council and the London Borough of Southwark.
The Cloud Infrastructure Division of Arcus provides Consultancy, Managed Services a
nd Cloud Storage to a large number of Public Sector bodies across Central Government, Local Government, the NHS and the Education sector.
Kate Warboys, Marketing Manager at Arcus Global – firstname.lastname@example.org