Posted on June 19, 2015
As Auckland Council was being established in late 2010, a national organisation approached council to offer a partnership/investment opportunity. The legacy Auckland City Council had made the decision to buy a local sports park to help with playing field demands in the area. This sporting body had a plan, it had organisational credibility, and access to funding. Locally, there was also interest from sporting groups in the area – whose demands had actually driven the decisions to buy the fields in the first place. So what happened?
The short answer is nothing.
Four and half years on, the only major development has been the significant deterioration of the asset.
The long (er) answer involves new organisation uncertainty, competing demands, regional versus local trade-offs and poor prioritisation. Perhaps these reasons might have explained year 1’s delay, maybe half way through year 2? But we’re approaching the start of year 5.
The local groups regularly engaged with council, but they had other issues they were focusing on and their needs were evolving over the period. The national group remained interested and regularly made contact. And waited. And waited.
In most organisations, if you escalate something high enough, you are more likely to get action. The simple reason for this is, a surprisingly small number of people actually take things to the top. The organisation didn’t do this until, quite by chance, two senior people in both organisations happened to get together.
So, it’s back again on the radar. But will we now see a quick response to make up for lost ground?
Well, in another part of Auckland Council a new “quick response” process has been launched. This is designed to give community organisations a much quicker decision on small requests for funding. Instead of the typical up to 6 month process, this “quick response” option would be more responsive. The time for this quick response?
Many of Auckland Council’s challenges are not straightforward. But these examples show the organisation is still struggling to both implement good ideas in a timely fashion (and even to find the correct name to describe it!).
There are capable and hard working people in many parts of the organisation. But the Mayor has himself struggled to provide the organisational leadership needed to motivate them to make better decisions.
Auckland needs a leader with more experience working and being effective in complex enterprises. Someone who can actually deliver a quick response.