NO WOMBATS: Lismore City Council’s general manager Gary Murphy holds a sign (created by artist Terra Sword) that signals a new grassroots approach to Council efficiency. Executive Director of Infrastructure Services Garry Hemsworth thinks the concept is a good one and, apparently, funny.
NO WOMBATS: Lismore City Council’s general manager Gary Murphy holds a sign (created by artist Terra Sword) that signals a new grassroots approach to Council efficiency. Executive Director of Infrastructure Services Garry Hemsworth thinks the concept is a good one and, apparently, funny.

Wombat for efficiency

Gary Murphy, general manager for Lismore City Council, has initiated a new concept to increase Council efficiency.

He came across the idea when he visited Norco in Lismore. He noticed a 'No WOMBAT' sign. Norco staff were quick to explain that anything deemed a WOMBAT (Waste Of Money, Brains and Time) was prohibited in the factory.

"We all thought it was hilarious and also incredibly smart," Gary said. "Studies have shown in many workplaces all over the world that involving staff, fostering good ideas and getting rid of things that simply aren't working are the best ways to create a cohesive workforce. From there, financial savings, better relationships and a more efficient team is the inevitable outcome."

Having moved to Australia from New Zealand in August last year to take up his position, Gary reckons WOMBAT is part of changing Council's internal culture, moving away from the top-down approach. People at a grassroots level always have the best knowledge to find solutions for day-to-day problems.

Gary said already some great ideas had come from staff. IT man Garth Hayhurst encouraged Council to hold an iPad trial with councillors and staff reading business papers from iPads rather than in hard copy.

It was so successful Council has now made the permanent switch - saving Council around $1200 a month in printing costs.

"Our staff have the knowledge, so let's use their ideas," Gary said. "And we have more than 400 employees at Lismore City Council so there are lots of brains to pick."

Executive director of Infrastructure Services Garry Hemsworth will head up the WOMBAT group.

"This is a great opportunity to get those staff closest to the problem to solve the problem - we'll also have some fun along the way," Garry said.


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