Audit Commission

The aim of this report is fivefold, first to relate the characteristics of Waltham Forest Council, second, to analyse the theory behind current development processes, third, to give examples of successful and unsuccessful interventions, four, to evaluate aspects in Waltham Forest and its environment that either aid or hinder organisational learning and finally to judge to what extent Waltham Forest is developing learning. The methodology used to gather evidence for this report, was to interview both the Head of OD and OD Consultant in Waltham Forest.

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HR, Audit Commission, Investors in People, Staff survey documents, books, journal was used. According to (Beckhard 2006) organisation development as an effort planned, organization-wide, managed from the top, to increase organisation effectiveness and health through planned interventions in the organisation’s ‘processes’, using behavioural-science knowledge. Schein et al (2006) Today’s organisational leaders are experiencing a consciousness shift. Where they sought excellence, they now seek learning – not only to achieve excellence but to stay that way through being flexible, intelligent and responsive.

Both private and public sector organisations are finding themselves in this challenging times competing for scarce resources, while trying to maintain and improve the quality of their services. Pedler et al (1997) 2. Overview of Waltham Forest Waltham Forest Council is a Labour led local authority responsible for providing public services and political leadership within the Waltham Forest. It is situated in the northeast of London, with a population of 225,000 and it was formed in 1965.

The elected representative comprises of the Mayor, 60 Councillors forming the Cabinet, a Leader chosen from the ranks of councillors. They have the overall responsibility for Council budget and policy framework. It employs over 4000 staff. Services are provided by three directorates – Adult Social Care, Children and Young People and Environment and Regeneration. Also, there are five corporate directorates – Management board (Chief Executive and the heads of Services), Governance and Law, ICT, HR and Finance. At the heart of Waltham Forest Core Values actualisation is the Management Standards checklist.

This is to ensure managers know what is expected of them in the delivery of Council Service Plans. That is managers should support the Core Values as well as let staff know what they can expect from them. The Core Values rightly reflect the kind of customer oriented service our local customers have come to expect from us. The list of council Core Values includes, continuous service improvement, putting people first, respecting diversity and acting with integrity and finally ensuring value for money in the provision of services.

3. OD Interventions 3.1 Intergroup and Team building activities According to (Burke 1992) for organisational development to place in any organisation the need for change towards the actual and perceived problem(s) must be driven by client, the planning and implementation of change must involve client and prescribe solution(s) must lead to change in organisation culture. Waltham Forest has undergone a period of change over the last few years. About seven years ago the council in conjunction with stakeholders formulated and implemented a Performance Management and Development System.

They also, established the Local Strategic Partnership in reaction to the woeful corporate assessment report in 2002. The council knew they had to change the way the business was running. The audit commission was particularly critical of its incoherent Performance Management System Framework and its lack of working partnership amongst the directorates and as well as with external agencies in the delivery of vital services to the local community. According to (Beckhard 2006) organisational development activities are action oriented.

Unlike other learning courses designed to increase knowledge, which is then transferred to the operating situation. In OD efforts, participants build in connections and follow up activities that are aimed toward action programmes. Schein et al (2006) Waltham Forest Local Strategic Partnership brought together all departmental teams and the senior decision makers of external organisations working in the key areas of the environment, employment, education, crime, health and housing. According to (Pedler et al 1997) the aim of the partnership is to foster participative policy making environment.

That is to allow both internal and outside stakeholders to take part in Waltham Forest policy formulation. It is also serves as a forum for internal exchange, where all the seven directorates were able to communicate freely, negotiate terms and view each other as customers and suppliers in the delivery of Council Service Plans. The forum enabled the council to engage in Inter-company learning. The council now fully engaged with the Police, NHS, and Shelter to formulate and deliver our safety, health and homeless strategy respectively.

For example, during their regular meetings both social and housing unit formulated a joint policy, where social workers are now working alongside housing officers in the homeless person unit office. The scheme started in 2007 and the aim was to spot vulnerable clients and intervene at the earliest possible time and this is bearing result in terms of fulfilling our statutory care in the community objectives. Working with diverse groups of people requires a tremendous amount of interaction. If these interactions are positive, they can help create the right workplace climate, attitudes, beliefs and behaviours. Roper (2005)