Sue Johnston

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Sue Johnston is an IBRS advisor who focuses on strategy and governance of private and public enterprise ICT. Sue is able to critique and comment on strategy, ICT investment and innovation management. Sue is also engaged in research on maximising the value of flexible workplaces and women in leadership. Sue has more than 25 years experience as an ICT professional, CIO, business manager and consultant working in diverse organisations in the public and private sector. Sue is passionate about engendering innovation and best practice management in all sized organisations and is a highly regarded advisor and public speaker.

Conclusion: User Centred Design (UCD) and Design Thinking are terms that are often used interchangeably. However, each approach is better suited to different scenarios and understanding the strengths and focus of each approach enables organisations to build capability and processes that leverage the opportunities presented by each to maximise service innovation and new product service design. While often used as approaches to identify and design products and services with a technology focus, they are in no way limited to technology elements. Not only is it important to leverage the most appropriate approach but organisations also need to build and apply skills and knowledgeable internal resources in the most effective manner to yield the expected results from these experiential methods.


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Conclusion: Public policy over the past decade has been considered by many as reactive with resulting implementations ineffective. In 2012, the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) published a report that reviewed the policy development approach of the Australian Government and determined that approaches could at best be considered ‘Policy on the Run’. It was the opinion of IPAA that this approach was ineffective and that a business case approach would be more effective. UCD provides evidence to support the business case approach and put the community at the centre of policy development.


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Conclusion: Organisations in both the public and private sectors have been actively improving capability and implementing processes and frameworks to improve project delivery effectiveness over the past decade. Project management approaches such as Prince2 and PMBOK have been adopted to improve project management practitioner capability and equip project boards and project sponsors to understand their roles and responsibilities in supporting project delivery.

The Gateway Review Process was designed and implemented as part of assurance activities and was intended to be a supportive and proactive activity that highlighted areas that may impact on successful project delivery thus enabling organisations to take corrective action well in advance of major milestones.

However, based on a number of high profile project disasters in organisations that have implemented the proactive assurance approach of Gateway Reviews, there are some learnings that will assist other organisations to avoid project failure.


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Conclusion: Australian governments at all levels are in the process of rethinking, reimagining and redesigning systems, process and services to improve government service delivery to an ever more demanding community. A number of government jurisdictions have or are adopting a user-centric approach to the design and delivery of a new generation of government services.

User-centric approaches such as User Centred Design puts the user at the heart of design and implementation and focuses on building products and services that are usable and useful through an approach that is inclusive and iterative.

However, simply adopting a fashionable approach under the guise of best practice alone will not provide optimal benefits and often places undue focus on the process at the expense of critical cultural and capability elements. Agencies looking to design and deliver improved government services need to also anticipate and provide for critical success factors such as: what is the most appropriate user approach, what skills and personalities should design teams include and leverage, and what behaviours should user-centric change programs support, encourage and reward to facilitate a successful user-centric program?


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Conclusion: It is widely recognised that public sector organisations do not have the same market drivers as private enterprise to be able to innovate in the same way. Drivers such as competitive forces and profit incentives stimulate and support breakthrough innovation. However, by understanding the elements that are active when breakthrough innovation occurs and reframing it within the context of the government sector, significant benefits and progress can be achieved.


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Conclusion: Organisations source and procure research and advisory services for a range of reasons. The benefits of access to external research and advisory can vary widely from organisation to organisation. Today’s business and technology environment is changing in more radical and rapid ways. Organisations that fully access and embed the information and advice available from research and advisory services can enhance the problem identification and solving process, ensure staff are incorporating a broad range of information into their thinking and systematically include changing environmental information at strategic, tactical and operational decision making levels. Research and advisory can also be used to improve staff analysis and presentation skills. 


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Conclusion: Design thinking is increasingly being utilised by organisations in Australia and globally to create new products and services. Based on the current level of adoption by leading organisations and those investigating design thinking it could be considered the next best practice concept. However, like other best practices, it is the art of applying the technique that reaps benefits, rather than just following the process.

In other words it is the nuances that need to be considered closely and not just the elements that can be seen and touched. Understanding the elements of design thinking and, most importantly, applying the right people using the right approach with the right expectations will ensure that the results match the promise. Empathising with users, customers or consumers is the first step in the process and is critical to the success of all the effort that follows.


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Conclusion: Organisations often look to their competitors for new ideas and innovations and to provide a comparison to their own operations and business direction. Public sector organisations tend to look at other public sector organisations at different levels such as local, state or federal and public sector operations in other countries. Australia generally looks to Canada and the United Kingdom for advances in public sector administration and operations.

However, there are many lessons to be learned from other sectors and industries that could have significant benefit for individual organisations. Failure to identify and harvest the lessons and ideas from other industries will place organisations at a significant disadvantage in the future.


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Conclusion: Organisations building new products and services need new tools and skills to reinvent old business offerings or build completely new business products and services. To be successful, organisations and key decision makers need to be continually assessing the environment for tools and techniques that can be introduced to assist in providing creative thinking and service design activities. Rather than focus on volumes of detailed assessments and documentation the new approach for tools and techniques is creative and visual. Combined with a culture that supports innovation and change, these tools assist organisations to confirm their service and value direction or to identify and build new value for their customers and their organisation. Having staff who have the right skills and the right aptitude to be creative will be critical even if an organisation partners with a specialist business.


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Conclusion: Many organisations looking to transform or innovate their existing business find it difficult to think about it in a completely new way as the past is always present. One way to approach the common strategic planning activity is take the perspective used by start-ups and build a business model for the future which re-evaluates current paradigms. Existing business models can be dissected into key elements and each element can be critically examined and evaluated in terms of its contribution to the desired value proposition.


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