Time to wake up, listen and delegate to your people

Its day 8 of self-isolation and its starting to hit home how hard this will be; coughing child seems to be recovering energy and appetite but the number of stories of friends of friends on ventilators growing by the day and my parents and Rachel’s in isolation and its hard.

It’s totally clear we are not alone in any of this.  The families feel in a pressure cooker, the singles feel lonely and the new couples now locked in together are about the hit the fast forward button on their relationships.

RedQuadrant has been pretty good.

Perhaps because we are used to working remotely, working to crazy deadlines and in high stress situations, Fraggle rock is a familiar place to us.  However, not everyone is so lucky and I have had a few accounts from friends and relations of people crying through exhaustion, fear and frustration on work video conference calls.

The technology will be a life saver in all this; but it’s also a danger.  It can dis-inhibit very bad behaviours including micro-management.  When we meet face to face a basic human mechanism kicks in and we start to register the emotional state of the people around us; it’s hard wired into us to do this.  Working remotely massively reduces our ability to do this as does stress.  Not being in the same room as your team can make you less included to trust they are doing their jobs.

I am also seeing many new websites being set up without anything substantive behind them; it feels like magical thinking by senior leaders to imagine new websites can save us without people behind them.  Perhaps it’s just easier than large scale engagement and delegation.

That may sound a bit luddite; it’s not.  I’m saying that technology acts as a force multiplier.  It can help deliver good ideas and help bring people together and help people do more.  But, without the good ideas and good people and delegated authority there is no force to multiply.

So if you are a leader I think it’s time to wake up, listen and trust your people enough to empower them.

You can get in touch with me to discuss via RedQuadrant at gerald.power@redquadrant.com or DM me on twitter @geraldpower happy to chat and share

It’s not about the IT it’s about exploiting the social capital

Having spent weeks setting up a community volunteer network I didn’t think I might be one of the first to use it.  But, our daughter got a headache and temperature on Sunday morning so now its home school, sick child and self-isolation for fourteen days of comfortable – if fractious and nervous- confinement.

That won’t be the case for many other people without money, food or social capital.  The people I see down the soup kitchen, or who rely on the local food bank, who for a multitude of reasons are struggling in normal times will rapidly find the situation much bleaker than mine.  Some will literally be on the streets as it has upset their mental health to the point they can no longer cope. Many of them will be going to their council for support, now or very soon.

Its undeniable part of this will be about resources and technology.  I have heard many clients saying how utterly relieved they are that they had rolled out home working before covid hit or at least had enough to allow them to work now.  However, it’s also obvious that the tools alone won’t fix this and there is a need for intelligence and insight.

Having a litre of milk arrive on the doorstep 20 min after a whatsapp request yesterday certainly make me feel better.  There are no online delivery slots in my area.  Having two bags of shopping arrive this lunchtime courtesy of a neighbour made me really realise how much this will be about ‘localism’ and local grassroots networks.

Yes we will be using tech, but it’s not really about the tech.  It’s about people, relationships and solving problems.  If local government can tap into this massive bank of social capital the road ahead will be much easier to navigate. Now is also the time to act.  The sun is shining and it feels very odd.  That reminds me of the phone footage of the Boxing Day Tsunami.  When the sea disappeared many tourists wandered down the beach to look at the funny fish; they should have considered why and what was coming next and headed for the high ground.

You can get in touch with me to discuss via RedQuadrant at gerald.power@redquadrant.com or DM me on twitter @geraldpower happy to chat and share

Covid response – It’s change but not as we know it

Its feels a bit star trek this week in supporting Local Government ‘Its life Jim, but not as we know it’. There is also a great Spock/ Kirk bromance meme going around regarding self-isolation. 

That feels pretty much where I am with clients, the priority services are still the priority services, the opportunities for channel shift are still the same and the need to manage more demand to self-service is still a priority.   Its change Jim, but not as we know it.  Now it’s far more urgent.

Within days or weeks Councils are going to have to cope with far fewer personnel and potentially big rises in demand for support and information.  Given that most of what a council does in terms of customer contact is not safety critical it should be possible to brigade resources to make sure that those in most need do get support.  Also that councils support the pandemic response looking after key workers and their kids.  The big challenge is going to be driving down all non-essential demand and moving resources to generate enough head space to make this possible. 

Having worked on the Swine Flu response in Cabinet Office I know what went on behind the scenes to muster vast capacity to do screening and prescription of Tamiflu online and by phone (remember that!) and stop GPs and A&E being overwhelmed and it worked albeit with a less deadly virus.  It was complex and it was really hard work and doing really quickly created a lot of challenges, but it was done successfully.  Perhaps because thing didn’t collapse people don’t remember it so much!

Anyway that’s what I’m working on this weekend for a large LA with my colleagues, how to re-work a contact and delivery model in a few weeks to give them the headroom to cope.  Feeling like 30% data and tech and 70% rapid change and communication. 

I just hope I can work out my own strategy on child care and looking after my parents and in-laws who are in self-isolation between now and Monday. 

If you need help on these issues contact me via RedQuadrant at gerald.power@redquadrant.com or DM me on twitter @geraldpower happy to chat and share

Introducing IT portfolio management

The central IT team at a large Government Department was aware that across the complex organisation many departments had the budget to launch their own local IT projects, which often duplicated or conflicted with other such projects.

The need was for a central way of knowing about and influencing the large number of such projects being started and underway, and they decided to implement an IT Portfolio Management process, to give them visibility and control over this group of projects.

They called in a large Consultancy, and I was appointed to develop the new Portfolio Management business process and tools, whilst colleagues built a spreadsheet showing all the currently under-way IT projects, and some planned future ones. This list showed clearly the duplicate or unnecessary projects already underway locally and was a revelation to the central IT team, so they began to highlight the duplications to the relevant department and function heads, in the hope of combining or stopping some of the wasteful projects.

Once the Portfolio Management process was developed and authorised, I then implemented it within a large function within the organisation as a pilot to test and refine the process, and to help spread the message about the need for the central IT team to be fully involved in the planning, prioritisation and approval of any new project.

The pilot went well and proved the value of the new process and re-enforced the key oversight and control role of the central IT function. The process was then rolled out to the rest of the organisation in a phased manner, which helped the overall IT function to develop towards being a world class function.

John Bridges
Consultant at RedQuadrant

If you are interested in finding out more about the work experience of consultants in our network reach out to consultantnetworkteam@redquadrant.com

Recognising ‘the script’

In business the one thing we rely on most is people, whether it’s staff, colleagues, stakeholders or clients. If they are stressed, fed up, feeling overwhelmed or unable to speak up it’s incredibly hard to engage them in change.

Whilst delivering workshops one thing has become abundantly clear to me. Everyone has a negative voice in their heads. It is never true. And it affects every area of your life, including work.

Whether it’s limiting beliefs about how much you can achieve, nervousness at selling yourself in interviews, feeling unable to challenge others or finding negative stakeholders difficult to handle, what I’ve come to realise it’s rarely the situation that causes the angst. It’s always that nagging voice!
If you’ve ever heard these responses to a new initiative – “Things will never change”, “Yes but…”, “It’ll never work”- then you’ll know exactly what I mean!

We call this ‘the script’ because it contains information gathered throughout life and when we listen to it it’s like we’re reading from a script rather than choosing how we would like to think, feel and act.

By learning to recognise the script we are able to see situations more clearly, choose better responses, and stop holding ourselves back.

In the workplace this can look like not feeling hurt by a colleague’s grumpy response, putting ourselves forward for an opportunity, enjoying our work, increased resilience, taking part in workplace initiatives, giving support to colleagues and being more open to change.

Even by teaching these concepts to one or two staff members I have seen the ripple effect as their renewed sense of purpose rubs off on others. Also, having common terminology makes communication easier. I’ve heard people say, “the script is saying…” which is much easier to say than “I’m feeling…”.

So, as you go about the rest of your day, see if you can recognise the script in any of your internal chatter and ask yourself, “Is that true? Would I choose that?” And be aware that those around you might be getting a hard time from the script too.

Kathryn Reay RedQuadrant Consultant

Circles of influence

In my work I come across a wide variety of people. Often, I see people who love their job but are overwhelmed, overloaded and simply overworked. We provide workshops and training to help people feel in control of their work again, we teach them how to prioritise, handle email, have effective meetings, etc.

One of the tools that we often use at the beginning of a programme/workshop like this is the circles of influence by Stephen Covey. This exercise is focused on showing people how much influence they have, and that a lot of things that feel ‘out of control’ are in reality influenceable. We focus on the things that are annoying them, or withholding them from doing their work. An often-mentioned obstacle is: meetings. It is one of the biggest contemporary curses nowadays: the number of ineffective meetings.

The solution is so simple, but still it doesn’t cross many peoples’ mind: question if your presence would be an addition or if it would be possible for you to just get the notes. Your reason to ask this question is perfectly justifiable: if your presence does not contribute to the meeting, you could rather spend your time on other tasks that need to be finished.

Often during this exercise people see the ineffective meetings as something that is bothering them but is not something that they have control over, while in reality it is perfectly okay to go to your boss or team and question if your presence is required, this is something that you have influence over. This is one of the many examples that pop up during the circles of influence, simple things that people are bothered by on a daily basis but are also accepting as a part of their work.

While in reality so much of our obstacles are more in our control than we think, we might not be able to completely stop them but we can question them and influence it. And by realising this, we make people feel more in control of their workload.

If you wish to discuss the above, then please contact Hedwig de Jong at hedwig.dejong@redquadrant.com.

The power+systems model in action: Bristol City Council

Public sector consultancy and PSTA delivery partner RedQuadrant shares a case study in service transformation

You may know Barry Oshry’s power+systems insight into organisations – the way tops, middles and bottoms predictably behave?

The tops hold a lot of the responsibility in organisations and make the strategic decisions, but they don’t necessarily know what is happening on the ground; here, the bottoms are trying to do their job but have decisions and orders passed down to them. Meanwhile, the middles are juggling the wishes of the bottoms whilst attempting to please the tops above them with good results.

I saw this theory coming to life in our work at Bristol City Council. For four months, we worked with 60 senior practitioners – working on the front line (though often managing others), the so-called bottoms. Then, on review day, we brought the bottoms, middles and tops together in one room for a whole day. When we initially started working with this group, a lot of them felt overworked, unsupported, powerless – very typical experiences of the space. The group that was now sitting in the room was completely different. They felt empowered, united and optimistic about the future. This came about through our development work with them, through a real commitment of their managers, and from just bringing them together as a team.

The last piece of the puzzle was creating a conversation between the different levels – a ‘time out of time’. By letting the team listen to each other’s feelings – not stories or examples, but real experiences – we created an understanding of how it felt to work at each level, what problems they were handling, and how that made them feel. We created a safe environment where people could talk honestly, and people were in a position not to judge but to listen. This resulted in a room full of neither tops, bottoms or middles, but instead a room full of people who were all working together to make Bristol a better place.

If you would like to discuss the above project or any similar opportunities, then please contact Hedwig de Jong at hedwig.dejong@redquadrant.com

HM Courts & Tribunals Service, customer directorate planning and delivery support

Public sector consultancy and PSTA delivery partner RedQuadrant shares a case study in service transformation

The justice reform programme is one of the largest public sector transformation programmes in the UK.  It involves profound changes to how justice is delivered and involves approximately £1billion of investment in change on the basis of major future savings.   The programme will involve a halving of the number of courts in the UK and consolidation of telephony and case processing from local centres to large regional centres.  The aim is an administrative system that is more efficient and effective for all stakeholders and which fully exploits modern digital technologies.

In late 2016 RedQuadrant was invited to provide specialist customer insight support to the programme in identifying opportunities for the successful digital transformation of the justice system.  Later RedQuadrant was appointed, after a competitive tender, to provide a package of support to the newly formed Customer Directorate team.  This included developing an operating model for this new team and a delivery model for implementing customer driven delivery within HMCTS overall.

In addition, RedQuadrant team helped the Customer Directorate prioritise its tasks and develop a team vision and work plan.  RedQuadrant then went on to provide support to the Customer Directorate in establishing a new Key Performance Indicator (KPI) set for HMCTS as a whole.

This project called on a wide range of skills in a fast-moving environment including business analysis, stakeholder engagement, communication planning, skills transfer and team development.

Streamlined Leadership Programme: Metropolitan Police Service

Public sector consultancy and PSTA delivery partner RedQuadrant shares a case study in service transformation


The Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) commonly known as the Met is London’s police service: the biggest in the UK and the largest city force in the European Union, ensuring the safety and security of a thriving political, economic, cultural and technological capital. London is a global city with an ever-changing population that is expected to reach 9 million by 2020.

Alongside policing a geographical area of 620 square miles across 32 boroughs, and 140 police stations, the Met has a significant number of officers and staff in specialist crime, investigations and operations. The Met has responsibility for protection in royal, diplomatic and parliamentary matters and is a significant presence in the national response to serious and organised crime.

The Met has 31,075 police officers – around 25% of the England and Wales total, policing 14.6% of the England and Wales population and dealing with 20.6% of all crime. The Met continues to become more efficient through a significant change programme which has to-date delivered £573m in savings. An additional £423m in savings are to be made by 2021.

It was as part of this change programme that RedQuadrant were invited to work with the Internal Design Delivery team (managed for the Met by their strategic partners Deloitte’s). Our role was specifically in relation to the Streamlined Leadership Programme, focused on delayering of the Chief Inspector rank within the MPS.

Our team brought expertise in areas of change, design, leadership, process facilitation and engagement. We each worked directly with a number of the 22 or so operational command units, and supported at business group level each team of in-house change leads. The objective was to support them in providing 3 options for chief officers to select a preferred design for further high level work and presentation to the Management Board. The next stage of the programme would be then shaped by the decision of the incoming new Commissioner.

An outline design approach and principles were to be delivered, with activities adapted to support local context and interdependent changes. We worked with each unit to facilitate 3 workshops addressing successive design reviews and analysis. The units examined roles and responsibilities, skills and organizational impact and, finally, enablers to move towards a delayered organisation.

The challenge

One of the main challenges was the breadth and complexity of the organisation; not only the day to day policing units but the numerous specialist units operating both overtly and covertly for example the Protection Command Unit (Royal and Diplomatic protection), the Firearms Command Unit and the Homicide Unit all meeting the complex and diverse needs of a city with a population of over 8 million people.

Further challenges were cultural in addressing a flatter organisational structure and effectively losing a rank which held significant experience and skills.  The whole organisation is implementing waves of change driven by national policy and legislation, pressures from the public, new threats, technological changes, and public spending constraints. The ‘bottom-up’ approach to delayering (tasking teams including those in affected rank and role to initiate the design review work) intended to secure active engagement but also meant most people had no direct experience or knowhow in relation to the task.

What we did differently / innovations in our work

Sarah Johnston led this project which involved the RedQuadrant team working with the OCUs on a facilitated face to face format as well as supporting them via e mail and phone. The sessions focused on the efficiency and effectiveness of the units and followed a prescribed pattern of vision and objectives.

We assisted the Met with their vision of reform and rank structure to empower staff, increase trust, improve decision making and reduce bureaucracy. This presented several challenges and our flexibility and understanding of their needs was critical to the programme’s success.

We applied the design principles set by the Met to assure and test our joint activity:

  • Lean structures
    • Aim to improve spans of control and increase supervisory ratios
    • Take account of College of Policing and Police Performance Framework
    • View statutory requirements associated to rank
    • Consider pan-MPS responsibilities and risk
    • Not design significant increases at Superintendent rank
  • Increased empowerment and improved decision making
    • Allocate tasks to the appropriate role in the organisation
    • Enable decisions to be taken at the most appropriate level
    • Streamline the number of steps in approvals process
    • Create an accessible leadership group
  • Reduced demand
    • Take opportunities to reduce demand to support a streamlined view
    • Identify none value add activities
    • Align ways of working with business groups across London
  • Measurable benefits
    • Keep measurable against programme objectives
    • Develop an organisation design for each business group
    • Remove Chief Inspector roles from MPS by summer 2018

The outcomes

Key outcomes were:

  • Each of the 22 OCUs were able to put forward an appropriate number of options for streamlining their areas of business
  • There was a close examination of a wide range of processes in key areas
  • A co-creative approach in working with the MPS meant that challenges were made, trust and openness built, and tough questions addressed
  • The enablers required to implement delayering successfully were fully identified and closely reviewed during the QA stage – informing the on-going change programme
  • Implementation of next steps, new structures, inter-linked changes in other aspects of the organisation will now be more cohesive
  • Our work and the team’s outputs enabled the MPS to take a close scrutiny on risk and resilience and supported top level decision making
  • Workload management issues were looked at (though not directly in scope) – along with a wide range of hard and soft systems, processes, skills, policies, etc.

Added value

  • Coaching relationships developed with a number of change leads with RedQuadrant associates providing guidance, support and challenge to help certain individuals and groups build their resilience
  • Skills were transferred to internal change and business leads as part of the project
  • RedQuadrant worked closely with Deloitte to refine guidance, etc
  • RedQuadrant shared some of our extensive knowledge and experience of demand management

The way forward

RedQuadrant have identified a number of positive ways forward to support and strengthen the new structure and introduce enablers:

  • Consulting on design, development and implementation of the delayered organisation – ensuring cultural, systemic and performance challenges are supported
  • Change team coaching – supporting the on-going direct ownership and involvement of change leads and restructuring/reforming units
  • Developing the ‘future Inspector’ as a key role ensuring sufficient uplift in strategic leadership. We have in the past for another force provided career coaching around the introduction of A9 using a model we have developed (for both those staying and moving on)
  • Targeting other ranks to ensure that broad leadership development and the positive outcomes from flatter structures can be realised
  • Enabling the whole organisation to influence stakeholders who will need to adjust to the new structural shape
  • Review the principles and processes adopted and propose improvements in specific areas with promising client leads – e.g. in the professionalism area, (HR, training, championing standards), and with empowered team leadership for modernised operations aligned with new hubs and localities.
  • Support and challenge around demand management


Disability services: Metropolitan Borough of Dudley Council (2016-present)

Public sector consultancy and PSTA delivery partner RedQuadrant shares a case study in service transformation

We carried out an opportunity assessment across Dudley council’s adult social care directorate annual spend (£110 million) with the aim of identifying potential efficiencies.

We prioritised areas of spend identified through a resources diagnostic and a cultural audit with staff. We developed eight business cases including a greater focus on outcomes within the assessment process and reviews of care packages, revised approach to NHS continuing healthcare and section 117s and investment in targeted prevention services. We ran a series of eight cultural workshops in different localities with staff across the Dudley region and identified current values, beliefs and behaviours and the priority areas to work on. By engaging teams, we were able to recommend a series of workforce development interventions that were designed to improve skills and kick start cultural change.

We are currently project managing the implementation of an all-age disability service for Dudley as well as developing strategies in relation to autism, physical disabilities and employment for people with disabilities. We are also supporting the council in the implementation of the local Multi-Speciality Community Provider programme.

We provided a clear plan to achieve a balanced adult social care budget 2017-20 based on business plans for securing annualised savings of £5 million (which is currently being delivered ahead of schedule with a projected underspend in 2017/18)


#agile, #disability-service, #performance-management, #social-care, #transformation