Case Studies

Capacity building for Leadership and Change Management in a public service entity

The work began with three meetings with the Assistant Secretary General, (one included Head of HR and Senior Principal Officer from the Division) to get briefed, identify the challenges and co-design the intervention. The biggest challenge was that this was a whole new Division with a high profile, holding a politically sensitive portfolio of work that had to be driven by a senior team with less than a year’s experience of working together.During three one-day events the team took time out to reflect on their work and their experience of taking up leadership. Our method was to look at previous achievements in very challenging circumstances and then to apply the emerging leadership vision and approach to a critical project under way at the time.This work made it obvious that the next layer of management needed to be involved and another day-long event was instigated. We facilitated with senior principal officers and middle managers to agree on what mattered in the day-to-day practice of ‘shared leadership.’ We also inquired about how best to build a vision, identity and influencing strategy for the new Division. This was to be followed up with a review of the evolution of the team’s shared leadership practice a few months later. However, the work had to be reconfigured so as to take account of changes in the make-up of the senior team and the policy direction of the service.


Creating a ‘statement of intent’ with a national children’s hospital using the lens of engagement

This project arose from a previous contract that looked at creating a culture of engagement with staff. The Hospital expects to merge with the other two paediatric hospitals in Dublin when the new National Children’s Hospital opens in 2018. The sense of anticipation combined with a degree of uncertainty while continuing to ‘keep the show on the road’ provided the context for the work.

The job was to design an engagement process that involved the board, staff, clinicians and senior managers and produce a ‘Statement of Intent’ for the Hospital. The Statement was to articulate the Hospital’s strategic ambitions and characterise the values and culture of an organisation that is known for ‘going the extra mile.’ We worked with senior managers to design a series of conversations with staff in a ‘strategy corner’.

The Corporate Community Team were responsible for the overall facilitation, encouraging senior staff to facilitate multi-disciplinary colleague groups and working with the CEO, her executive team and the Board to produce a document and sign off on the statement. The whole process produced the concept that the hospital now uses to inform its leadership and practice. “Engaging with Power, Passion and People: we’re doing it now.”


Merging Organisations in challenging times

This is an example of supporting a leadership team to decide on a unified leadership approach and single organisation vision while being in competition with each other for key jobs.

We were asked to facilitate and support the leadership in a merger of two 12-year old childcare organisations with the overall aim of establishing a new organisation with a unified vision for delivering an integrated development agenda around childcare for the whole County. This process was driven by “national policy to merge local authorities” and as such the impetus was external to both existing organisations.

A lot of this work centred on getting agreement in facilitated sessions between the two organisations. While the merger was ‘imposed,’ the leadership were anxious to work with staff to see this as an opportunity of improving the childcare infrastructure in the whole county. A whole series of formal and informal meetings required careful sequencing, facilitation and advice in order to address the following issues over a six-month period:

  • Acknowledging the reality of a complex and demanding environment surrounding county and city organisations built up independently over a decade and with different approaches to leadership and management
  • Addressing the implications of the proposed merger on governance arrangements for the board, senior management and staff
  • Creating a “good will” atmosphere founded on the development of trust at all levels
  • Changing of roles as people moved into new configurations to achieve key targets in a relatively short period of time
  • Holding on to the bigger ambition of the merger when all aspects of the work were coming under scrutiny and fears around future job security become more prevalent
  • Dealing constantly and concurrently with the individual and sectoral apprehensions, mischievousness, and daily practicalities that are inevitable in such processes.