Public Sector Could Lead

Public sector needs to step up and lead……..

The public sector should be our business role model, leading the way and implementing more effective process, increasing productivity and saving money whilst maintaining superior service at the front counter, a leading skill development provider

Chris Bell says.

Bells heads Customer Experience, a company focused on leadership coaching and he agrees with Treasury Secretary John Whitehead, ‘it isn’t just about lifting the game, it’s about changing it.’

“We cannot deal with a new environment – a completely new and challenging economic environment and the demands of 21st century consumers – with old tools, approaches and mindsets,” Whitehead said recently.

Bell, from discussions with many inside the public sector believes it is a culture where people are not prepared to stand up and take innovative, effective leadership roles.

“I am told there is no kudos in being a team leader within the public sector. People are too scared of being in the firing line. Nobody with any decent leadership skills is putting their hand up,so we are not necessarily getting the very best people running these departments and this is contributing to the culture and lack of performance.

Bell believes it is only this culture change which will help lift New Zealand higher up the OECD productivity ranks. “We agree that the game must change. So called experts have been going on about our productivity performance for ever and nothing has changed. What we are advocating is simple, different and fundamental. Nothing will change unless you get leadership and culture right.

“Our twist on this is that instead of trying to get the public service to look at the private sector (as suggested by Whitehead) why not put down the challenge to the public sector that they could be the ones that lead the way and become the example.

For the private sector it’s about making a greater return on hours worked and money paid, it’s about growth and productivity and working smarter. For the public sector it’s about increased efficiency and less waste resulting in cost savings without affecting the service. It’s also about having the right people in the right places, he adds.

Better performance requires innovation, it requires a culture where people feel empowered and valued. “Once a leader has a culture of involvement in place, a number of key things happen inside the team that benefit the organisation and play a major role in increasing productivity.

“As New Zealanders we expect good service, so taking the customers’ perspective is critical in providing the right public sector services.

“There is no quick fix when it comes to delivering great customer experiences. Both the private and public sectors traditionally look for the quick fix but you can’t change anything quickly. You have to focus on the leadership, the culture, the systems and processes.


In the past many dollars have been spent on leadership training and productivity has not changed. What ever we are doing right now is not working. “It’s time to stop talking about it and create change. We must take this opportunity to build a leaner more productive public service.

“It is our firm believe that if both the private and public sectors want to make significant productivity gains, targeting leadership and organisational culture need to be at the top of the list.” Bell believes the Customer Experience philosophy would be very effective in the public sector.

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Chris Bell is available for further comment

027 2792360