Systems Thinking and Continuous Improvement

Last updated: 5 days ago

The State Services Commission supports public sector agencies to build operating models that put their customers at the front and centre of their work.

The State Services Commission supports public sector agencies to build operating models that put their customers at the front and centre of their work.

Organisations struggle with the how to orient around the customers and New Zealanders we serve.

We have a team of coaches with the skills and experience to help agencies learn how to understand their system from the customers’ perspective. Our offering has particular value in helping front line agencies and sectors work across boundaries, when that is what is required to deliver results.

SSC’s systems improvement coaches work alongside staff to understand customer interactions, how work flows through their system and where waste occurs. This information is used to challenge and change the way things are done to make improvements.

Knowledge and skills are transferred to agencies to build a learning culture of sustainable, system-wide continuous improvement.

Our approach draws on a range of methods and influences, including the work of John Seddon, W. Edwards Deming, Chris Argyris and Gerard Egan.

We offer several distinct services that can provide Systems Thinking based methods for improvement:

  • Complete a “System Understand”: Work with you to develop a comprehensive data and evidence based understanding end-to-end work systems from the perspective of the customers your serve. This can be working within or across agency boundaries
  • Operating Model development and testing: Based on an in-depth understanding of the system, build a customer centred way of operating and the focussed measures that will help you understand performance
  • Continuous Improvement skills for your leaders through coaching them through an end-to end cycle of improvement, testing new ways of working to improve performance and embedding successful changes.

In addition we offer two introductory courses for your people - System Thinking for Leaders and System Thinking Fundamentals.

See the results of our work in Education Payroll Ltd below (click image to view larger version).

EPL chart

See these videos for first-hand experiences of the approach in Education Payroll and Land Information New Zealand.

See the results of our work at Auckland International Airport Departures with the New Zealand Customs Service, Aviation Security Service and private sector Airport company below (click image to view larger version).

IPANZ chart

The work at the Airport was recognised with the 2015 IPANZ award for Excellence in Achieving Collective Impact.

IPAN Award for Excellence in Achieving Collective Impact

Previously we have described this approach as better every day continuous improvement. We have started to focus more in multi-agency systems so are now describing our work as systems improvement.

For more information, please email: bettereveryday@ssc.govt.nz

More about continuous improvement for the State Services

How the approach works

Benefits of the approach