In 2019, rising budgets created an opportunity for Hertfordshire Constabulary to improve its service to the public and reduce crime. Chief Constable Charlie Hall knew that to capture this opportunity, he would need to support police and crime commissioner David Lloyd with a series of strategy and investment decisions – and his leadership team would also have to make shrewd organisational and operational decisions. To build the decision-making approaches that would give him the best chance of success, Mr. Hall commissioned Leapwise to assess current leadership decision-making approaches and identify improvement opportunities.
Meeting Effectiveness as a ‘big win’ for Better Decisions
A rapid diagnostic based on interviews, decision-metric analysis and meeting observations, identified huge strengths in decision making processes alongside three priority areas for development:
- Empowerment- leaders felt too many decisions were being escalated to the top of the organisation, reducing time for strategic decision-making;
- Coordination – Over time, governance had grown complex – sometimes resulting in duplication or linked issues being dealt with in isolation; and
- Meeting effectiveness – Meetings were absorbing significant senior time and leaders wanted them to be more focused on decision-making.
To make quick progress on these issues, Hertfordshire Constabulary focused first on implementing new approaches to two of its most critical leadership meetings (chief officers meeting and ‘Organisational Development Board’). Supported by Leapwise, chairs clarified meeting purposes, participants, decision roles and frequency, and selected tools and techniques from Leapwise toolkit (see graphic below). A strategy session identified key strategic decisions the senior team would need to focus on in these meetings (or others) for the coming year.
The Leapwise SIRUP Framework was used to set the thresholds of Scale and Risk for key decision making meetings.
The team built a list of critical strategic decisions and started to schedule time for these discussions (with the right timing, sequence, work to support progress).
Decision Input Guidance
Guidance was created to help those preparing papers for decision-makers, ensuring they provided key information, meaningful opinions, etc.
Techniques deployed included:
-Email closed policies
-Decision ‘type’ and ‘role’ frameworks
-Chair speaks last
-‘Live’ recording of decisions, next steps and accountabilities and communication
Ratings of the perceived impact of the two senior meetings on team and organisational effectiveness roughly doubled (see graphic below). Reduced numbers of participants and reduced time on lower-value activities, meanwhile saved time – estimated to create non-cashable savings in the region of £71,000 and £91,000 per annum.
The biggest gains, however, were made through the conversations about the big decisions required for the coming period. Based on these – and the direction of Mr Lloyd – the force has embarked on a comprehensive programme of work based around a ‘Prevention First’ approach to policing. Plans are developing to ensure robust decision-making as the programme takes shape and develops. As Mr. Hall put it: “Leapwise and their toolkits have helped the constabulary to improve strategic decision making and empowerment throughout the organisation. This has given us a sharper focus on how to design and then deliver the organisational changes being planned over the next two years.”
161 % increase in positive impact on organisational performance
45% increase in positive impact on team performance.
87% increase in number of participants who see more than 60% of the agenda relevant to them
MEETING PARTICIPANTS REPORTED MAJOR IMPROVEMENTS IN MEETING PERFORMANCE
(Before and after survey results, average ratings out of 5 across 2 meetings)