WRITTEN ON March 7th, 2008 BY Sir Bonar Neville-Kingdom GCMG KCVO AND STORED IN Uncategorized
Sir Bonar Neville-Kingdom writes
Can I first say how delighted I am to be communicating with you all through the medium of this ideal government online web log. You may be surprised to learn that this is something of a first for a serving Permanent Secretary. But we should not be surprised.
The famous talk I always give to fresh young high-fliers when they arrive in the Office is based around what I call the six C’s. The first is Continuity. But the second is Change. Third is Communications, and fourth is Co-ordination. Sometimes the media accuse us of Centralisation, but we prefer to call it Co-ordination (from the centre).
Continuity and Change, Communication and Co-ordination: these are what defines the Cabinet Office, which is the fifth C. And the Cabinet Office, at the heart of the Civil Service, gives us our sixth C.
The Civil Service, and in particular the Cabinet Office, has changed out of all recognition in the years since I joined it: computers, air-conditioning, and water coolers, to mention but three Changes. Yet, throughout all that Change we have provided Continuity. These are not mere words. This is the very essence of our professionalism.
Now of course, we’re adding a seventh C to everything we do: Customer insight. May I say straight away that I am profoundly enthusiastic about Customer insight and its transformative potential right across Whitehall. I believe the work we have done in this area places the British Civil Service, and the Cabinet Office in particular, at the very forefront of Customer Insight. Indeed we welcome a constant stream of Commonwealth delegations here to study our leading work on Customer Insight.
But what is Customer Insight, and why is it so important to the future of the Civil Service? The answer, first hinted at in the seminal Nodiss policy work in 1999 (in which I can claim some involvement) is that Customer Insight means knowing as much as possible about everybody, so we can do our job better.
People differ greatly, and if we at the centre know as much as possible about their likes and dislikes, the things they’re good at and the things they’re perhaps not so good at, then we’re able to send out messages far more effectively, serve people better. This in turn means we can be far more efficient and effective as a country, which is what everyone wants. Of course, there’s a great deal more in the detail, but in essence it’s really as simple as that.
Before I finish this first blog-cast may I just thank our good friends at Ideal Government for giving me the opportunity to join this new channel of dissemination. I greatly look forward to continuing our fascinating conversation.