Turning the wheels on transport in Western Australia

Cultural reform is the first step towards broader strategic outcomes.

The first phase of Machinery of Government (MoG) changes announced earlier this year identified the need for a continued focus on the integration of transport agencies (namely the Department of Transport, Main Roads WA and the Public Transport Authority) in Western Australia.

“The Department of Transport will remain a stand-alone Department but will be required to accelerate internal cultural reforms to better integrate Main Roads and the Public Transport Authority to ensure holistic transport planning and delivery.” – Public Sector Commission, April 2017

The transport portfolio will also need to respond to the findings from the Service Priority Review targeting culture, performance, efficiency and expenditure, the final report of which is due to be released by the end of 2017.

There is a clear need to change.

There are unprecedented financial pressures facing all public sector agencies and the new Government has a strong commitment to regaining budget control without impacting customer service levels.  This rapidly changing landscape needs to be undertaken while reassessing the transport portfolio’s operating model to realise cultural reform, respond to disruption and achieve financial efficiencies.

Many of these pressures are being tackled in pockets and could be addressed more cohesively across portfolios and the sector to unlock larger benefits. Deloitte has outlined eight key service delivery drivers and summarised what they mean in practice for agencies within the Transport portfolio.

The Government’s direction for transport agencies is not dissimilar to that of transport sectors in other jurisdictions, nationally and globally. In 2016, Deloitte identified a series of mega trends that highlighted the impact of disruptors (for example, new on-demand entrants, fiscal constraints, digital etc).  Despite the many ways that we can interact with and manage our transport systems, the core reason for doing this has not changed. Put simply, the public want to be able to move from Point A to Point B in a manner that is safe, efficient and cost effective.

In an increasingly complex operating environment, today’s leaders are struggling to rapidly shift organisational culture to deliver strategic outcomes.  To leverage culture as an asset to organisational performance, organisations must first have a clearly articulated culture—one whose norms and values support the advancement of the organisation’s purpose and mission. This may seem self-evident, but just 23 percent of the respondents to the 2017 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends survey believe that their employees are fully aligned with their corporate purpose.

The importance of purpose is ever-increasing. Employees now are seeking purposeful work, ahead of higher salaries, and this sense of meaning in their work can be significantly enhanced through a culture that is built upon shared values. A shared culture clearly defines how the efforts of organisations and individuals are making a difference. While individuals may find purpose in their work regardless of their employer’s culture, it’s reasonable to suppose that being part of a shared culture can play an important role in amplifying that sense of purpose. Organisations that can meet people’s needs for meaning and recognition in their work are much more likely to perform at higher levels. Deloitte research suggests that “mission-driven” organisations have 30 percent higher levels of innovation and 40 percent higher levels of engagement.

Bersin by Deloitte research has also identified organisational culture as one of the most important business issues for leaders. Leaders continue to acknowledge culture is critical for driving individual and team behaviour, innovation, productivity and customer service. For our State’s transport agencies, the value expected from a well executed cultural transformation program includes:

  • Improved Customer Service Delivery

A cohesive customer oriented culture, aligned to holistic portfolio planning should improve customer experience, efficiency in service delivery and system-wide planning decisions.

  • Effectiveness of Decision Making

Compatible culture can improve the speed of decision making to operate the agency effectively, particularly where they intersect.

  • Collaboration and Talent Retention

Aligned ways of working will drive greater collaboration, smoother interfaces and reduce the risk of talent being frustrated as they increasingly work at a system level.

While structural changes may generate activity and a sense of ‘business’, without appropriate cultural alignment, these changes will limit the effectiveness of future transformation, including structural changes.

As outlined, with consistently high quality service delivery, clear decision making and a pool of networked talent (across multiple agencies), the Transport portfolio will be able to deliver on Government priorities and provide a continually evolving service to the public.

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