Orchard Learning and Development Ltd
Orchard Learning and Development Ltd

Delivering Transformation at the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames

Over a four year period, Jonathan Smale project managed a number of major organisational change projects for the Royal Borough of Kingston-upon-Thames. These achieved direct savings of over £3m p.a. as well as making, through improvements in leadership, organisational design and culture, a significant contribution to wider organisational savings of £13.5m p.a.

An overview of the seven directly managed projects, all of which were delivered on time and budget and achieved  or exceeded their savings targets, are as follows:


Project 1 – Realignment of the Directorate of Environmental Services (DES)

This project consisted of a review and realignment of DES around a new customer-centric model. The project achieved savings of £650k p.a., primarily through reductions in staff costs, and created a more fluid and adaptable service structure featuring pooled resource teams, a central administrative hub, and the introduction of mobile technology-enabled flexible working practices. The project very much laid the foundations for the One Council transformation programme that was to follow.


Project 2 – Flexible working pilot

During the implementation phase of the DES Realignment, Jonathan recognised the benefits that agile working practices could bring to the directorate, especially bearing in mind the nature of professional roles which required a substantial proportion of the time working in the field. Jonathan persuaded the Directorate Management Team to invest £60k to redesign an old-fashioned cluttered office space housing 25 staff as a modern, dynamic and multifunctional agile-working environment. 
Over 50 staff were equipped with mobile technology and, despite some initial resistance, 100% of the participants later stated that they would not go back to the old ways of working.  Savings in office space freed up as a result of the pilot project achieved a return on investment in only 6 months and agile working has subsequently been embraced across the wider council.  


Project 3 – One Council Review of Organisational Development

As the first of the major review projects undertaken as part of the One Council Programme, the success of the Review of Organisational Development strongly influenced the approach and outcomes of all those projects that were to follow. Delivered in two phases, the project successfully integrated all HR and workforce development activities and created a new OD function that was at the heart of the change agenda. With Phase 1 achieving savings of £230k p.a. through staffing reductions, the integrated working that followed resulted in a further £250k p.a. worth of efficiencies, primarily through reductions in external training spend brought about through improved commissioning arrangements delivering better value for money.  


Project 4 – One Council Review of Strategic Business

Prior to the review of strategic business, many areas of the council’s business infrastructure, including strategic services, performance, partnerships, communications, audit, democratic services and legal services, were dispersed in nature and provided in an uncoordinated way that did not fit with the organisations new ‘One Council’ working philosophy. An early step was to clearly articulate a set of Business Principles (building on the achievements of the Review of Organisational Development) that would act as a consistent guide for all future change. By integrating all Strategic Business activities into a single service with a dynamic, project-focused matrix structure and modern ways of working, savings of £740k p.a. were achieved.


Project 5 – One Council Manager

Jonathan’s expertise in the field of Leadership Development was recognised when he was invited to manage the One Council Manager project, the vision of which was to deliver a consistent, organisation and leadership culture that inspires and motivates people and teams to deliver the best results for residents. The project consisted of four interdependent work streams including implementing a Leadership and Management Framework, introducing programmes of leadership development for managers at all levels, reshaping management structures, redefining management roles and rationalising management numbers, and mapping the organisation’s management population against this new model.


Whilst this was primarily more of an ‘enabling project’ focused on delivering the improvements in leadership and culture needed to bring about the success of all the One Council Programme as a whole, it achieved direct savings in its own right of £475 p.a. through reductions in Chief Officer and Senior Management level posts.



Project 6 – HR Shared Service for Kingston and Richmond

As the One Council Programme progressed to a ‘One-Kingston’ focus, reflecting the need for a wider change agenda that encompassed the recommissioning of services and working collaboratively with partner organisations and neighbouring boroughs, Jonathan was commissioned to project manage the creation of an HR Shared Service for the London Boroughs of Kingston and Richmond. As well as saving £450k p.a. across both boroughs, the project was recognised as a success story in staff engagement and cross-borough collaboration, as featured in Municipal Journal at the time of its launch. The project created a fluid and dynamic new HR model that has created greater resilience for future change and readiness for further collaborative working with other neighbouring boroughs.


Project 7 – One Kingston Review of Business Support

It was recognised that, whilst the One Council programme had transformed the way in which all services and internal functions were structured, managed and delivered, the administrative arrangements in place to support the business remained inefficient, inconsistent and out-dated. Following the success of the projects he had previously managed, Jonathan was appointed to manage a comprehensive review of all business support across the entire council. The project required substantial analysis and a complete redesign process and resulted in the implementation of a modern, streamlined Business Support Service. Key to the success of this project was the ability to influence stakeholders to embrace the new approach, many of whom were concerned about the prospect of ‘losing control’ of their support staff and activities. The project achieved its initial savings target of £250k p.a., with the scope to deliver considerable further savings in future years.

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