Monday, October 11, 2004

Improving the improvement movement 

The civil service is continuing on its cut-waste crusade. The following excerpt is from a report in The Straits Times.

Revamp of civil service quality drive
A civil service movement to encourage workplace innovation and service improvement has been revamped this year in response to last year's frank critique by a top civil servant.

Permanent Secretary Bilahari Kausikan, who heads the ExCEL movement, declared last year the movement had lost its way. He did so after a survey found that one in two civil servants preferred to stay away from the many Work Improvement Teams (Wits) set up to improve workplace efficiency...

Mr Kuasikan's diagnosis: Too many man-hours were wasted on elaborate preparations for the annual ExCEL convention... As a result, this year's convention...will do away with the element of competition. It will take just one day, unlike last year when it took four days for 100 judges to select 48 award winners from 400 teams.
The Singapore government has often been criticised for excessive changes. Too many changes causes cynicism among those affected and burn-out among those who have to implement them.

And yet, continuous improvement is the hallmark of great organisations. Change to eliminate waste in government is, I think, especially desirable. Furthermore, this revamp appears to be an improvement of a system designed to encourage improvement, so hopefully this change that Kausikan has kick-started will have compound effects.

Details about ExCEL and the new convention and award ceremony are available from its website.

Not everybody is so optimistic about Singapore’s civil servants. AcidFlask is off on another rant against A*STAR.


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