Understanding risk, building resilience, improving performance

Posted on March 22, 2018 by Tim Gilling.

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Using organisational insight to enhance governance and scrutiny

A priceless asset of any organisation or business is insight from the workforce – the knowledge, skills and experience that people use every day to get the job done. But how many organisations or businesses make best use of that insight – to help identify risks and opportunities, build organisational resilience and improve the performance of projects or services? How do senior leaders or an executive board know that the decisions they make are informed by good insight from every part of the business or organisation?

Refreshing your approach to governance and scrutiny can help provide that assurance and help you deliver better outcomes for citizens or customers and better financial performance for your organisation or business. This means that governance and scrutiny need to become everyone’s responsibility, just like health and safety for example. All employees need to understand what good scrutiny is and do it well, as part of the ‘day job’. And there need to be effective ways for the outcomes from scrutiny to influence decision-making.

Creating the right culture and behaviours is vital, as well as training and processes. There is no quick fix, but by helping leaders and managers to change how they run meetings, interrogate data and work and think differently, scrutiny can become integral to your governance arrangements to fuel future success.

Skanska UK is a global construction company renowned for its value-based approach to business. In 2016, CfPS starting working with Skanska on a a new Quality of Scrutiny programme aimed at improving the quality and quantity of scrutiny carried out at all stages of their projects. As well as introducing new project gateways, the programme focused on scrutiny behaviours, skills and techniques with coaching and training aimed at the most senior leaders and now being rolled out UK-wide. You can read a full case study of the programme here.

Councils, NHS organisations, housing associations, education providers, voluntary/community sector bodies and private businesses can all learn and benefit from this approach by:

  • increasing the confidence and ambition of your employees to spot risks and opportunities in projects or services and speaking up about them
  • developing a culture where everyone takes responsibility for better quality projects or services, supporting each other to succeed
  • planning a more solution-focussed approach to project or service review meetings
  • providing assurance for decision-makers that they have the best insight from the frontline
  • reducing risk of project or service failure and increasing prospects for better financial performance and/or outcomes for citizens or customers

If you would like CfPS to support your organisation to help scrutiny drive improvement in the way you do business please get in touch by emailing info@cfps.org.uk or call 020 3866 5100.

About the Author: Tim Gilling

Tim is a Director at the Centre for Public Scrutiny, leads on health and social care and oversees our work in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.