A lot of the work we do at the Centre for Organisation Development is with local government. It is interesting then that it has taken me so long to put my finger on what it is about local government organisations that make them different from so many other organisations.
I think it is, that they are – in marketing terms – early adopters.
Marketers would explain this as ‘adopter category theory’ but it simply means that they are not amongst the first 2.5 percent of the population to adopt innovation – they are the innovators – but they fit into the second category, which is made up of the next 13.5 per cent of the community.
Early adopters are big processors of information and shakers of new information. They are prepared to take calculated risks but are concerned with failure.
This profile fits local government ideally. Innovative without being foolhardy, but a very long way ahead of most organisations of a similar size in terms of learning and applying new ideas that are practical and applicable now, and future focused. Strategic planning and community development is Council’s core business and staff are encouraged to innovate and create solutions to often complex, multi-disciplinary issues.
Our private sector clients are often amazed to learn that councils have been implementing leading edge and innovative programs long before it becomes ‘fashionable’.
A current example of this is local government’s engagement in values-based leadership. As we introduce this and other organisation development and people focused management concepts to our private sector clients, they are regularly surprised that the best examples of excellence and innovation in this area are from local government.
It is a reminder that Councils often take for granted the fact that so much of what they do is transferable and valuable in the private sector.
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