Service delivery: They don't know how to buy and we don't know how to sell

Third sector leaders and public service commissioners both need to change their behaviour if the sector's potential to deliver improved public services is to be realised, according to a new report produced by Acevo and Futurebuilders.

The report, which arose out of interviews and discussions with both groups earlier this year, sets out the skills and behaviour patterns required from third sector leaders and public sector commissioners if they are to build productive relationships.

Among the requirements for third sector leaders involved in public service delivery are ‘taking a strategic perspective’, ‘orientating the organisation around customer service’ and ‘communicating in a visionary manner’. Other desirable traits include ‘demonstrating affinity and integrity, ‘possessing, confidence, courage and resilience’ ‘motivating and developing a team’ and ‘networking and influencing’.

In the foreword to the report, Acevo chief executive Stephen Bubb and Futurebuilders chief executive Richard Gutch say: “As the third sector’s role in public service reform continues and grows, its success will depend less on winning arguments over policy and more on key relationships on the ground. The challenge was successfully summed up by a Futurebuilders applicant when he said ‘They don’t know how to buy and we don’t know how to sell.’”

The report also contains sections on strategic commissioning and procurement, managing organisational development and third sector attitudes to service delivery.

Seb Elsworth, Head of Policy at Acevo said: “Although the commissioning presents real challenges for third sector providers, our research shows that the best chief executives are meeting them. The third sector’s ability to drive public service reform will depend on our ability to create and develop future leaders in this mould.”

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