A year of work in progress – day 217

Day 217 – 16 December 2014

I don’t think that I’ve ever been to Derby before that is until today. I’d been passed it, perhaps even through it but don’t recall ever stopping there. I might have been there for the football in the dark and distant past. This morning five of us made the trip down as part of our accommodation programme. The City Council had been through a similar move as part of their ‘One Derby – One Council’ programme and we were keen to learn from their experience. My boss used to work there which helped.

Our visit was to concentrate on five areas: Programme Management; Culture Change; Records Management; Barriers to success and; Organisational Gains. We also added a bit on Regeneration which was a big theme throughout both theirs and our own programme.

Derby’s accommodation was (and still is) a significant part of their overall transformation programme. Service centralisation played a big part and they have no devolved services now. The City is a very tight urban area however.

They developed a new target operating model of: self-service; customer management; front line services and; back office (their words not mine). Throughout the programme their mantra was to simplify, standardise and share.

The building is very impressive, with a modern, clean and open feel. Apart from the Chief Executive, Strategic Directors and Cabinet members, no one has a desk.   They started, after moving, with a seven to one ratio (people to desks) but are now down (or up) to five to one. To achieve these levels requires most people to spend at least two days per week at home. Some people have to be reminded that they need to come in occasionally.

Their approach certainly seems to have been effective. During the visit there was no sense of being short of space, indeed the opposite was true. What was very apparent however was that they had built their transformation on a six pillar approach of a clear vision, strong leadership, robust governance, dedicated resources, stakeholder management and communication.

Number seven on my countdown of things I was going to achieve this year was to ‘Do something with Big Data’. This is another one that I’m happy that I’ve made progress with. I’ve talked about this so many times that I won’t go into it much further other than to say that I feel it is starting to get some traction. People are nodding their heads when I talk about it rather than going glassy-eyed. Steve and I are meeting this Friday to decide the way forward.

I missed the Dynamo board in the evening.

Learning points for today: you can’t work on a laptop in a car, especially in the back seat and in the dark; everything a council does will fit into one of thirty six boxes (don’t ask me what they are); DORIS stands for delivering outcomes that really improve services; unisex toilets are a step too far and; mail is the most simple complex process in the world.

Today’s enjoyment rating 9/10 – apart from the drive, a very interesting day.

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