Don't know what people feel the solution for the Sheffield Shield might be ashley, not too sure of the setup you have over there, but I think they really need to slash the number of English counties. There are simply too many spaces in too many teams, allowing relatively mediocre players to play first class cricket.
Here's how I would promote excellence in performance......
If there were, say, ten counties, or regions, there would be a greater competition for places in the first class game, which would lead to a higher standard of cricket, which would be more watchable. Also because of less counties there would not need to be so much central funding to subsidise the counties just to enable them to stay afloat. Many of the counties aren't really financially viable organisations any more, and would go under anyway without the money from the ECB which it gets from Sky for broadcasting England matches.
You could then go back to a single division championship, with home and away fixtures against nine other teams, for an 18 game season. Also scrap stupid batting and bowling points, which don't achieve anything. Getting points for achieving arbitrary scores is so dependent on the pitch and the conditions, for instance, almost every team batting at Taunton always gets all the batting points, because it's usually good weather and the pitch is as flat as a pancake.
We should also scrap the stupid 40 over competition, whatever it's called this season, and replace it with the standard 50 over format.
Also, schedule the competitions so you play the 4 day cricket season, preferably when the weather is likely to be at its best, and get used to excelling at that, then have the hit and giggle stuff in separate blocks at the beginning and end of the season; start with the 50 over competition in late April/early May, get that out the way, and finish with the T20 in late August and early September. Too often now there is a 4-day game, then a trip up the motorway to a 1-dayer the next day, then back to 4-day and so on. How on earth are players supposed to get into the right frame of mind for a first class game when they're playing slog-and-run the day before, or vice versa?
I also think the T20 competition has grown to too many games, and also afaik they are always in the same geographical groups, so for instance, Kent never play Durham, or Essex never play Yorkshire. With ten teams, you draw two random groups of five, round robin home and away, top team in each group goes straight to a final.
They also need to start ignoring the idiotic Kolpak ruling and enforce a minimum number of English players in the team, preferably ten out of each starting XI, but definitely at least nine.
Also they need to get cricket back into schools, but I haven't yet got a plan for funding that though