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The EDGEWORK® Manifesto

How to deliver sustainable change in complex public services.

The EDGEWORK Manifesto makes the case for a new approach to public sector leadership and consultancy. The culmination of 20 years of working at the frontline of change in the public sector, the book explores why smart, dedicated and experienced public sector leaders find it difficult to make measurable and sustainable improvements within their systems. We clarify the difference between ‘complicated’ and ‘complex’ issues, build on our own innovations and experience, draw on the latest academic thinking about complex systems, and why explain why better outcomes should cost less.

We wrote The EDGEWORK Manifesto for public sector leaders – not our elected politicians but senior executive managers working within the public sector including chief executives and directors in local authorities, chief executives and directors in CCGs and health trusts, and leaders in other public services such as chief constables, chief fire officers, housing association leaders and education sector leaders. The book is dedicated to them.

Contact us to learn more about the book, or you can buy or download a copy.

Two-minute Summary

Two-minute summary

What problem are we trying to solve?

Public services are complex but most solutions to the challenges that public sector leaders face do not appropriately reflect this reality. Linear solutions are offered to resolve complicated problems. But in complex systems, traditional approaches often fail.

The consequences of poorly defined problems are profound and widespread

Linear solutions often show early promise; but as they are working within complex systems, they are often unable to adapt to changing requirements or are too fragile to withstand external shocks. This leads to bad, expensive and unsustainable outcomes.

Why do public sector leaders and their consultants continue to frame problems narrowly?

Most forces affecting the public sector reduce the space for system leaders to act. With limited bandwidth and few reliable tools on offer, many frame their problems too narrowly and therefore find that their options are constrained.

Leaders embracing complexity need a different approach to make change happen on the ground

Public sector leaders who embrace the complexity of their systems and set a greater ambition for improvement need to change their own approach to leadership. They must work across boundaries in new ways, ensuring that they have the right tools to deliver impact at the front line.

A different type of support is required to help leaders seize the complexity opportunity

There are huge opportunities to save money and improve outcomes for public sector leaders who look beyond the boundaries and embrace the complexity of their systems. Seizing these opportunities requires a different type of support.

A completely different type of support requires a completely different type of consultancy

Working in complex environments challenges both public sector leaders and consultancies profoundly. Traditional methods and business assumptions no longer hold and new skills and methods are needed. It requires a new business model.

What now?

You have read the briefings from the big firms, the newest airport management tome and the latest copy of Harvard Business Review. You’ve just read The EDGEWORK Manifesto. You know this all makes sense and have decided to act.

What now? We offer a seven-step action plan.

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