Sheffield University Management School’s impact strategy seeks to develop routes to impact by working with regional and national government agencies and umbrella organisations to maximise the dissemination of its research. To this end, since 2010 we have focused on enhancing the leadership and innovation skills, attitudes and behaviours of public sector managers in our local South Yorkshire area through the Sheffield City Region Leaders Programme (SCRLP).
This programme was developed collaboratively by the University of Sheffield (UoS) and Sheffield Hallam University (SHU) with the aim of improving public service delivery in the Sheffield City Region.
The programme comprises five modules, two led by academics at SHU and three led by academics at the UoS. Birdi designed and conducts a two-day, 10-credit UoS module on innovation built around the CLEAR IDEAS model and where participants apply the model to real-life problems facing them.
The evaluation data collected from the workshops as well as new research has been used to continuously refine and improve the CI methodology. The CI model has also been used with members of national bodies such as the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills (2012), the Scottish Government (2011, 2013) and the British Psychological Society (2010-2013).
Since September 2010, participants in the CLEAR IDEAS workshops have included 216 public sector managers and employees from: seven Councils (Sheffield, Barnsley, Rotherham, Bolsover, North East Derbyshire, Doncaster and Chesterfield), NHS institutions (e.g. Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Blood and Transplant service, Sheffield Care Trust), South Yorkshire Police, South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, three educational institutions (Sheffield College, University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University), South Yorkshire Forest and Sheffield Homes. We have therefore reached many of the major significant public sector bodies in the Sheffield City Region.
Evidence of impact on enhancing innovation resources and skills of employees
Analysis of questionnaire data from 181 workshop participants has shown statistically significant improvements in all targeted innovation-related competencies (e.g. generation of new ideas, planning for implementation). The SCRLP evaluation reports also showed that 98% agreed/strongly agreed that the CLEAR IDEAS model is a useful way of dealing with problems and 99% agreed/strongly agreed the workshop was relevant for their job needs so we believe managers have been provided with new innovation resources to improve their professional practice. The SCRLP itself was given a Highly Commended citation in the European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD) Awards 2011, with the impact part of the application focused on the CI module.
Based on the principles learned whilst attending CI workshops in 2010 and 2011, Sheffield City Council (SCC) managers in the Communities Portfolio used monthly ‘Thinking Aloud’ sessions in 2011 to embed regular time for innovative thinking and application of CLEAR IDEAS approaches. The monthly sessions contributed to the development of a new and more efficient Community Access and Reablement Service (CARS) for Sheffield aimed at providing support for older people and those with physical or sensory impairment. The basis for CARS arose from application of CI to the challenge of saving costs by reducing demand for adult social care services. In the twelve months after its implementation in July 2012, adult referrals requiring formal assessment for social care needs fell from 80% to 31%, due to improved efficiency of the new system. The new system is also estimated by management to have saved SCC £1.7M in the first year. The Head of Improvement and Development, Communities Portfolio, Sheffield City Council stated: “It is really clear that there is a direct link between the ideas that were generated in the CLEAR IDEAS session and the significant reablement programme that is now in full swing and making a very significant impact on reducing assessment costs and waiting times and diverting people effectively from adult social care.”
Influence on planning and management of services and on continuous improvement training in the police service
Following positive experiences from their SCRLP participants, South Yorkshire Police (SYP) have written into their continuous improvement strategy document that the CLEAR IDEAS model has been adopted as a supporting toolkit from 2013 onwards. This involves training officers, staff and service improvement groups in all four of the SYP districts in the use of the CI methodology so this can be used throughout the organisation. To date, 30 employees of differing ranks in Rotherham district have taken part in workshops with the aim of developing innovative methods of reducing burglaries, vehicle crime and promoting more efficient working; we are monitoring the progress of the ensuing initiatives. For example, one group is now working on implementing the ‘Pawn Shop Partnership’, a new strategy for reducing the second-hand market for stolen goods.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue (SYFR) used creative thinking techniques introduced on the CI workshop to improve their smoke alarm fitting by adopting a simple and effective solution (Velcro pads) to solve the problem of dust and alarms falling off ceilings in 2010. This solution overcame an organisational health and safety issue surrounding the fixing of alarms to ceilings containing asbestos and reduced the need for trained individuals to re-fit alarms that had been previously poorly fitted. SYFR has fitted approximately 19,000 smoke alarms in the last three years and the reduction in materials alone was estimated to save 3p per alarm fitting
SYFR participants realised by using the CI techniques in a workshop that the efficiency of road safety communication to schoolchildren could be improved by pooling cross-agency resources. The resulting initial ‘One Message’ project was piloted in Sheffield primary schools in 2011 and indicated the viability of the approach. This then led to them being given a budget of £98k from South Yorkshire Safer Roads Partnership to commission a new integrated road safety education package. The education package centres on an interactive and hard-hitting video presentation entitled ‘Collision’ which was launched on 30th Jan 2013. SYFR are now working with local schools to ensure as many young people in the county as possible have a chance to see the film, with the aim of improving road safety in the future. Furthermore, another new educational package called ‘Routes 4 U’ aimed at 14-16 year olds has been developed by SYFR with the Open College Network. This arose from an initial CI workshop on how to deal better with the anti-social behaviour of NEETs (youth Not in Education, Employment or Training). This initiative is designed to help young people learn teambuilding, citizenship and employability skills and was launched in South Yorkshire in February 2013 and to date has been delivered in four locations with more lined up.
A Medicine Information Pharmacist in Sheffield Children’s NHS Foundation Trust was noticing problems with poor patient compliance and drug administration with a gastro-oesophageal reflux medication. Using the CI workshop techniques he was able to influence the choice and adoption of a different drug in 2012, reportedly leading to more accurate administration, dosage and patient compliance. As he says “… by and large it is has been a success… the implementation of the change went a lot better than I thought with over 90% of patients changed over to the new medicine within 2 months… There was a predicted financial saving for the Trust (c. £10k per annum).. and these savings seemed to have been realised despite a 15% increase in prescribing of the new medicine. Other hospitals around the country asked for a copy of our guidelines with a view to implementing the same innovation…”
South Yorkshire Forest (SYF) is responsible for managing over 200 square miles of rural and urban landscapes and a million people live within its boundary. It was tasked with developing a Local Nature Partnership (LNP) to bring about improvements in the local natural environment. The SYF Director used the CI approach from 2011 onwards in a series of meetings with partners in order to expand membership to include the private sector and therefore provide a more widely inclusive and effective partnership than originally envisioned. He says “The CLEAR IDEAS model gave us a framework to look carefully at strategic development and business development opportunities, and not just to think in terms of usual projects. The Commit, Lead and Engage aspects were extremely valuable tools in helping to identify the economic benefits of our (collective) work and to develop productive new partnerships, particularly with the private sector. This has proved invaluable because the firmer focus on jobs and growth has placed a much clearer emphasis on working with business sector partners. The LNP is quite a long strategic development process…but has already delivered more efficient working through service integration.”