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Chasing Agility

Chasing Agility

A new report from the Victorian government claims that the complexity and uncertainty that the public sector faces is driving the need for governments to foster agility in its people, systems and outlook

A failure to share data effectively between and within agencies and aversion to risk can be amongst the biggest impediments to agile government, according to a new report from the Victorian government.

The report finds agile organizations are 'hyper-strategic', tackling challenges wrought by turbulent external environments, while also preparing for future changes that are not yet apparent. And they move through an agility cycle, seeking out and interpreting information to inform short-, medium- and long-term decision making and action.

But it also concludes scanning — the process of gathering and analyzing useful, timely, actionable information to allow organizations to use data in quick and intelligent ways to improve performance — an essential ingredient of agility, is impeded by a lack of shared information across the public sector.

"This slows down the process of scanning and sometimes forces policymakers to duplicate each other's work," the report says.

The report is a joint publication produced by Simon Parker, head of public services, and Jamie Bartlett, researcher, Demos, in conjunction with the State Services Authority as a follow-on to the 2006 State Services Authority report The Future of the Public Sector in 2025, which highlighted the need to foster agility to support a high-performing public sector.

"Data is sometimes not shared effectively between and within agencies," the report notes. "The problem is often not a lack of data, but difficulty in locating and accessing the right kind of critical and actionable information. Often this means that officials do not have enough access to post-program evaluations and lessons learnt. In turn this results in insufficient feedback mechanisms to enable learning. This speaks to the need for agile governments to find better ways of sharing information and learning across public sector departments and agencies."

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