NLGN Innovation Forum identifies key ingredients of ‘change leadership’
2 August, 2002

A new joint report from NLGN and IDeA on organisational transformation at two leading local authorities has identified the key ingredients for other authorities embarking on a similar process of change. E-government and organisational transformation – lessons from Liverpool and Hertfordshire, the first published output from NLGN’s Innovation Forum identifies the necessary components to any ‘change strategy’ as:

  • Leadership at all levels
  • A clear vision & strategy
  • A new culture of organisation
  • Understanding customers and their communities
  • Partnership working
  • New approaches to funding
  • Joined-up services
  • Keeping and maintaining momentum

On the importance of leadership at all levels, the report quotes the Chief Executive of Liverpool City Council, David Henshaw:


“Leadership is not just about sole individuals. It is about teams, leading teams, creating teams and building teams of leaders”.

The report also quotes Bill Ogley, Chief Executive of Hertfordshire County Council on the need for a new cultural of organisation:

“Cultural change is vital because it’s the people who deliver services, not structures”.

Written by Abigail Melville, an Associate Director at IDeA and formerly interim director of NLGN’s Innovation Forum, the report brings together the findings of the first two visits of a ‘knowledge exchange programme’ – intensive 24 hour sessions involving a small group of peers exploring a particular area of innovation through meeting with local staff, managers, politicians and customers. The findings illustrate how, from very different starting points, Liverpool and Hertfordshire have used e-government as a vehicle for driving ambitious organisational change programmes to deliver more customer-focused services. Both authorities are now recognised for their innovative approach to service provision.

Welcoming the report, Liverpool City Council leader Cllr. Mike Storey today said:

“Everyone at the City Council has worked extremely hard over the last few years to transform this organisation, and I am very pleased the changes we have made have been recognised so positively. However we know there is still a lot of hard work to be done and this review will help us focus on the further changes we need to make.”

Cllr. Robert Ellis, Leader of Hertfordshire County Council, also welcomed the findings:

“As this report makes clear, leadership at the top is clearly vital. Yet, the findings also acknowledge that managers and staff at all levels at Hertfordshire County Council have been key to the positive changes that have taken place in recent years. They should take pride in this fact as we continue to build on our success”.

The report, aimed at local authority managers facing similar challenges in their own organisations, also includes a foreword from Dr. Wendy Thomson, the Prime Minister’s Advisor at the Office of Public Service Reform, who writes:

“Leadership is essential in times of change. We need to build leadership capacity at every level. The case studies in this report demonstrate that it is the skills of leadership – establishing direction through vision, aligning people through effective communication and motivating and inspiring through personal integrity and energy – that are the key to making change happen”.

Following on from the themes of E-government and organisational transformation – lessons from Liverpool and Hertfordshire, NLGN and IDeA are co-hosting a series of ‘Leadership Masterclasses’ in the summer and autumn. Aimed at local authority Chief Executives, Senior Managers and Directors looking to improve their leadership skills, manage change and transform their organisation, the masterclasses will use the new report as primary source material.

All enquiries relating to the report or general enquiries on NLGN contact Ian Parker – 020 7357 0116 / ian@nlgn.org.uk

I&DeA enquiries to Paul Bailey – 020 7296 6529

Notes for Editors:
NLGN is an independent think-tank, seeking to transform public services, revitalise local political leadership and empower local communities.

The NLGN Innovation Forum is a unique space where policy makers, professional managers and politicians come together to experiment with new ideas, share learning and influence the shape of public policy across all levels of government. The visits to Liverpool and Hertfordshire were the first in a series within the Innovation Forum ‘Knowledge Exchange Programme’. A second report will follow forthcoming visits to Middlesbrough and Kent.

IDeA provides practical solutions to improve council’s performance, by offering tailored support packages to individual authorities and by developing innovative solutions to problems affecting the whole of local government. www.idea.gov.uk

Abigail Melville is an Assistant Director at IDeA with responsibility for the Agency’s overall approach to improvement. Between October 2001 and March 2002, she was seconded to NLGN as interim director of the Innovation Forum.

Copies of E-government and organisational transformation – lessons from Liverpool and Hertfordshire are available from York Publishing Services Ltd. £20.00 (£1.25 p&p) Tel: 01904 431213. Fax: 01904 430868. Email: orders@yps-publishing.co.uk

For further information about the NLGN/IDeA ‘Leadership Masterclasses’, contact Rosa Napolitano on 020 7357 0082 / rosa@nlgn.org.uk