The Proposal


Many councils recognise the need to become more commercial; whether by adopting a commercial approach to internal service delivery, better utilisation of council assets or getting the best from external contractors.  


Working in partnership with at least two authorities we are seeking to establish an organisational development (OD) programme that addresses the change in culture needed to make an authority ‘more’ commercial. Using a maturity model that describes a series of commercial states (e.g. a spectrum; non-commercial, medium low, medium high, very commercial) against which the councils’ current commercial status can be assessed and progress measured over the course of the programme.  


We will co-create a programme of interventions that enable the organisations to realise their objective of becoming financially sustainable while meeting their political and public service priorities. The programme will ensure that 'business as usual' is undertaken in the most efficient way, whilst at the same time creating the open, inquisitive, environment that enables the creation and exploitation of innovative new revenue streams 


While many councils have been doing this for some time and doing it well, the current environment requires a step change for improvement especially in building confidence, understanding and capacity amongst all council officers and members. Every council stands to gain financially from doing this better.  


Drawing on our wide public and commercial sector experience, the initial maturity assessment and bespoke, targeted activities will support councils through all stages of the commercialisation process. We will work with a range of partners including specialist public sector lawyers, accountants and academics – to deliver expert advice around specialist areas. For example; risk, contractual terms and conditions, procurement, ‘quality/KPIs’. This advice will be delivered in the context of the wider OD programme.  


The programme is excellent value for money - whether you consider the savings to be made from doing things better or with regard to creating new revenue streams. By investing in the programme participating councils will be able to shape it – you will be a co-creator of the programme -  and draw on insights from the other participating partner councils.  


We intend to offer our services at a heavily discounted rate to our initial council partners to reflect your role in the creation of the programme, and of course as an incentive. 


Upon completion of the programme we intend to go to market with the product we co-create with you – charging a full market rate – and sharing the profits with you, our initial investors.  


The programme will start with a diagnostic process to ascertain the council’s current as-is status. This will be used to shape the programme to ensure it is targeted on the council’s highest priorities. During the course of a facilitated overview session we will develop a shared commercialisation roadmap – including key milestones for pending key commercial decisions - to tailor future sessions to meet your needs – e.g. making sure a refresher course on negotiation skills is aligned to a particular phase of an existing procurement process. 


As well as supporting your drive to make savings, our aim is to build capacity and transfer knowledge both within your council and between you and the other investor council. We will provide ongoing support around the organisational development programme to ensure the changes are embedded for the future.   


Headline business case


Local government funding has been cut by over 40% in the last eight years with more to come. This reduction in funding is exacerbated by increasing demand for council services. This puts enormous pressure on councils to find savings by developing new ways of doing things, managing demand, getting the best from commercial providers and using all their assets to the full. 


While as a sector local government has been more successful than other parts of the public sector in responding flexibly and imaginatively to these challenges, anecdotal evidence suggests there is more to be done.  


The business case appears clear - investing in improving a council’s commercial capabilities at all levels secures significant financial savings. The savings achieved will recoup any investment in learning and development - whatever the council’s commercial maturity – and fund the development of innovative new revenue streams. Both strategic and tactical approaches are neededthere is no point in investing in developing a sophisticated corporate approach to managing risk if the strategic approach isn’t right and vice versa. This investment has to extend to members, and that should include all councillors especially those on scrutiny and overview panels 


We want to work with two councils to develop and pilot a complete development programme which covers all aspects of commercialisation. We would like everyone in the council ‘owning’ and feeling equipped to take a commercial approach, not just colleagues in procurement, finance and asset management We will build the programme around knowledge transfer and scalability within and between councils 


We are interested in working in partnership with two councils to develop a sustainable action learning environment within local government. This will include the business case for maintaining this programme, interactive Learning and Development (L&D) and analysis of spend on external suppliers, review of contract management and measurement of savings accrued from increased (internally focussed) commercialisation – as well as measurement of new revenue streams. 




Local government has faced severe funding pressure for the past eight years. The inexorable squeeze on finances has meant pressure on services is building. The idea of local authorities becoming ‘more commercial’ is very much in vogue. In 2014 the LGA published the National Category Strategy with a focus on ICT procurement. The LGA is about to publish a second version which builds on the initial guidance but looks more broadly at procurement, collaboration and commercialisation 


Our programme will build on the key themes and guidance delivered in the NatCatStrat2 with the aim of helping local authorities make the most of their assets, empowering customers, managing contracts more effectively and ensuring value for money across all services. 


Project description


We will deliver this through practical (in situ) and virtual engagement with the council to identify and deliver its core commercialisation, including capacity building objectives. The use of face-to-face and ‘classroom’ activity will be balanced by an acute awareness of people’s availability and the option of online learning where appropriate. 


Outline programme (these will vary depending on partner council requirements) 


  1. Overview session  

Strategic workshop for senior members and officers to set the scene and agree on the overall direction of the programme.  


  1. Assessing the 'as-is' and key deliverables:  
  • Self-assessment against maturity model to develop shared understanding of where the council is on its commercialisation journey and where it wants to get to – what are the key issues; 
  • Identification of key milestones –  
  • Major upcoming procurement and other decision points 
  • Budget/financial plan deadlines  
  • Management of current contracts  
  • Key strategic drivers in the council which may create an innovative approach; 
  • Agreement of KPIs (financial and non-financial to focus our engagement). 


  1. Building a commercial framework for success

Developing the internal components of the framework which will include; 

  • Strategy 
  • Systems and processes 
  • Structures 
  • Skills and knowledge  
  • Culture and behaviour 

This will align to the existing organisational development plan for the council  


  1. Implementing the change 

Delivery of a bespoke programme addressing key issues within timelines – given different stages, different parts of the council might look like:  

  • Facilitation of board sessions to develop strategy and approach to commercial risk; 
  • Senior managers learning sets to develop advanced level commercial skills; 
  • Development of on line learning tools for key staff including for example; 
    • KPIs and performance improvement 
    • Understanding your supplier marketplace
    • Risk management 
    • Creativity and innovation 
    • Culture and behaviours 
    • Negotiation skills session for key functions  
  • Authority wide engagement exercise(s) to develop the understanding of the need for the organisation to become more commercial within a public sector context.  Also looking at individuals’ role in the council’s future success - comprising both ‘business as usual’ activities and innovative thinking components to support the creation of new revenue streams.  


  1. Developing the sustainability plan - Creating the infrastructure

Alongside a practical delivery methodology, we will agree on an approach to knowledge transfer, capacity building and sharing – both within a single council and between both different funding partners, facilitated by Caja. We will employ various tools, and methods including; action learning sets, Linkedin group, quarterly reviews/experience sharing/challenge sessions.


  1. Evaluation and agreeing on the market offer 

12-month end of engagement evaluation session and report validated by a partner university business school. This will include a proposal for taking the programme to market.  

We are particularly interested in extending the reach of the OD programme to include elected members, particularly scrutiny panel members. It would be impossible to truly change the culture of a council without so doing. Many members will also have significant commercial experience on which to draw and also share. 


Organisation Profile


Caja is a niche boutique consultancy, specialising in business transformation, change management, organisational design & effectiveness and advisory services. We specialise in working with organisations in the public, health, higher education and private sectors drawing on our directors’ core expertise and the wealth of experience of our team of associates.


We work with clients who are interested in knowledge transfer and building sustainable internal capacity. This is driven by our own public service commitment and observation that too often, change programmes fail because they don’t focus on the knowledge and practical experience of front line staff. In the context of this proposal, ‘transformation’ is often hampered by a poor understanding of the commercial implications around a given programme of change – or in fact isn’t a genuine transformation programme to begin with! The proposal seeks to address these issues in both its content and the collaborative way in which we want to work with partner councils to develop, pilot and evaluate the programme.


What are we asking for?


Partners interested in:

  • Developing and/or improving their approach to commercialisation across the whole organisation;
  • Working with Caja to develop & pilot this. This will include the creation of an effective engagement model that is tailored to all relevant stakeholders and practitioners predicated on effective knowledge transfer and change management;
  • Working with Caja to develop a maturity model, evaluation frameworks and learning & development packages around commercialisation that are really relevant to local authorities’ situation;
  • Being part of a longer-term network of councils sharing experience around commercialisation and capacity building within the sector - and in the process generating a new reveune stream.




Ideally, we would like to work with two local authority partners to work on this to develop the product and approach to scalability. 


No oforganisationsinvolved 

Core Costs (per org) 

Local Costs (per org) 

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  • Months 1-3:

Overview conversation, strategic workshop, diagnostics and draft development plan;

  • Month 4:

Commence setting up programme delivery infrastructure, commence engagement process, start of practical inputs;

  • Month 5-12:

Delivery of confirmed programme running alongside agreed knowledge transfer activity within councils and with partners;

  • Month 6, 9. 12:

Review/experience sharing/challenge session – within council, with partners with partner university business school

  • Month 12:

Evaluation workshop with partner University Business School

  • Month 12 +2

Evaluation report produced

  • Month 12 +3

Recruitment roll, product launch, marketing and roll out to next tranche of councils.