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listen to people outside their own area.” (Mid-level civil servants group)

    • o

      “Often there are constraints from the service part of our own organisation. ‘Yes, you should go and do this, but you will have to do a very lengthy procurement process. And you will have to deal with the IT services that we’ve already got and no, you can’t have a new PC because we have to wait 18 months for a new one of those and when it comes, it won’t be right.’ There are various constraints like that that I feel probably in the private sector someone would sort out.” (Mid-level civil servants group)

  • 31.

    From the experience of some of our focus group participants, this

culture is changing:

      • o

        “ . . . in fact our new Chief Information Officer went into [a section] and was given a thirty page list of why things couldn’t be done, and he said ‘Tear it up, I want a list of what can be done, and how you’re going to do it and when you’re going to do it’, and that is the cultural shift, and of course it takes time for that to happen.” (Project manager level civil servants group)

      • o

        “Get rid of that culture and allow [innovation] to happen. I have only been in the civil service a year and I can see pockets of that good culture within departments and some small agencies who are particularly good at it. But some big departments are absolutely appalling at it and until you get that balance right it is going to be very difficult to get the consistency of innovative thinking through government.” (Senior civil servants group)

      • o

        “ . . . at the moment, at the very top echelons of the senior civil service . . . there are some very scared people, because of the fact that there are all these new people coming in with all these new ideas, and expecting such a lot from them, and actually setting them some very hard tasks, and sort of deliverables within 100 day periods and things which is what you’d expect with the private sector and they’re just not used to it.” (Project manager level civil servants group)

  • 32.

    One mid-level civil servant felt this was all rather unfair:

    • o

      “I am a bit worried about your view of civil servants.”

33. Another theme that developed, which is related to cultural barriers, is that of fear of failure or fear of risk:

  • o

    “my experience, across my career, has been that the civil service has a very low appetite for risk.” (Project manager level civil servants group)

    • o

      “When you are being an innovator you cannot be afraid of failure and you should welcome it and even go back to things that have failed because they might succeed in another.“ (Business group)

    • o

      “One of the things that I think is a barrier is a fear of failure. It is fine if an innovation works, but is it something like only 7 out of 10 work. And there is an endemic fear of failure and the ‘who’s fault was it’


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