Nedlands shire walking with giants
About 10 years ago the City of Nedlands was making headlines for its fiery council meetings. There was also the matter of a tree pruning policy that raised residential hackles.
However, after four years of painstaking work the city has emerged with the National Business Excellence award, following in the footsteps of companies such as BHP, Honeywell, Boeing Australia, Kodak and Toyota Australia.
It is the first time a Western Australian company or organisation has won the top Excellence Medal in the 16 years the awards have been run.
The council has also won the Local Government Awards’ Best Practise Whole of Organisation prize in 2002 and 2003 and the Leadership Award in 2003.
The award win also signals one of the final acts for the council’s CEO of the past four and a half years, Shayne Silcox.
He is leaving the council to take on the CEO’s position at the City of Belmont – a council that has had its share of controversy in the past few years.
The awards are run by Business Excellence Australia, a division of Standards Australia International, and require an organisation to send in a 50-page submission answering seven criteria.
Those criteria are: leadership; strategy and planning; data, information and knowledge; people; customer and market focus; innovation, quality and improvement; and success and sustainability.
So how does an organisation such as a local government demonstrate success?
In the City of Nedlands’ case that meant demonstrating things such as improvements in unit costs of services and customer satisfaction.
It was able to demonstrate that it is ranked in the top 1 per cent nationally in customer satisfaction and has been able to reduce rates.
Mr Silcox said the council made the move to implement the business excellence process four years ago.
"The council actually put it into my performance plan this year that the council be benchmarked nationally," he said.
However, even if it had not won an award, Mr Silcox said the process would have been worthwhile.
"A national evaluation team of industry experts came across and spent several days in the organisation evaluating it," he said.
"The outcome for us was that we would get a report on what we could do to improve the business."
With the national award won, Mr Silcox said the aim was to set the bar higher next year.
He is in the process of putting together the council’s strategic plan for the next year and also its budget. He could also have an oversight role in the search for his successor.
The council Mr Silcox is going to, the City of Belmont, was the focus of a Department of Local Government and Regional Development inquiry that handed down its findings in 2003.
Part of that investigation centred on the land dealings by the council’s then CEO Bruce Genoni.
Mr Silcox said his contract with Belmont included a clause prohibiting him from conducting personal land dealings within the city.