At the City of Regina, two related factors have been driving the successful restructuring of its Community and Protective Services Division.
The first is the Queen’s IRC Blueprint for Diagnosing Organizational Effectiveness, which has provided the map for change. And the second is the enthusiasm for the Blueprint tool from the City’s senior management.
“The Queen’s IRC Blueprint is referenced in every restructuring initiative we embark upon,” says Bonny Bryant, General Manager of Community and Protective Services. “It provides stable footing as we move forward with our restructuring and change processes.”
The catalyst for restructuring came in 2006, when a new civic leadership team committed to making the City of Regina Canada’s best-run municipality by 2011.
“We could not have imagined how the success of one initial process would lead to an overwhelming level of support from all our Directors in Community and Protective Services,” says Bryant. “Each of our four departments has embraced the process.” The departments are Community Services, Parks and Open Space, Transit, and Protective Services.
The City’s first contact with the Queen’s framework for organizational design came in December 2007, when Linda Allen-Hardisty, Manager of Quality and Innovation, and Paul McGregor, Manager of Organization Development and Employment, completed IRC’s Organization Design program. The timing could not have been better in light of the commitment to review departmental structures across the organization.
Shortly after, Chris Holden, Director of Community Services, contacted the Human Resources department for assistance with his planned restructuring. The Community Services department provides a range of sport, culture, and recreation activities to Regina residents; it has 300 employees and an annual operating budget of about $7 million. HR recommended the idea of adopting the Queen’s IRC methodology for organization design, which provides a high degree of involvement and results-focused effort.
The process mapped out by the Blueprint created an opportunity for employees to be engaged from the beginning, a radical shift for the organization. “This was a very different process from previous change initiatives,” says design team member Bev Pelzer, Manager, Program Operations, in Community Services. “We were strongly encouraged to make suggestions throughout the restructuring process.
“Even more important is that our suggestions and input were incorporated into the final design. The end result was an improved design that will move us forward to achieving new successes for our department, our division and our city,” she adds.
In January 2008, the departmental restructuring team met for the first time and began an interactive, often challenging, process that focused on open dialogue, respectful exchanges, and above all, participation.
A representative team of employees from within Community Services completed the design work. Once a draft framework for restructuring was created, the team’s discussions turned to how to maintain high levels of engagement among Community Services staff. The design team understood that their success was rooted in effective communications and engagement by the entire department. It was decided at this point to employ learning cafes.
Communications and sharing of the design plan with staff took place soon after the draft structure was identified. Credit for the success of the learning cafes went to experienced facilitators from across the organization, which included a fire safety educator, HR practitioners, community coordinators, an operations analyst, and a workforce development coordinator.
“The decision to use this inclusive approach was in keeping with the framework that was detailed in the Queen’s IRC OD course,” says McGregor. In February 2008, all 300 staff members were invited to participate in either a day or evening session. The facilitators were excited to see a high response to the invitation, which lead to rich discussions amongst the employees.
Community Services Director Holden praises the use of learning cafes to disseminate information, “and more importantly, to collect information and suggestions that were ultimately incorporated in the final design.”
He adds that as a direct result of Human Resources’ innovative approach in using the Queen’s IRC Blueprint, his team “maintained a high level of involvement that translated very quickly to commitment and support. We also retained a high degree of engagement by our design team, even though they realized early in the process that their current work world was about to change through this process.”
The organizational design process created lots of buzz internally, including favourable comments from staff and senior management. News of the successful use of the organizational design framework has travelled to other departments, and it is being considered as a guide for restructuring initiatives in Fleet Services, IT Services, and Facilities/Energy Management. The support provided by both Quality and Innovation and Human Resources through departmental restructuring has resulted in increased requests for restructuring support. Both groups consider this to be a highly valued service for their clients.
“This truly is an engaged change process and has inspired all who have had the opportunity to become exposed to this refreshing approach,” says Laurie-Anne Rusnak, the City’s Director of Human Resources. “It is no surprise that this restructuring process is now being used in departments across the organization.”